The Department of Justice has charged a United States Army soldier who allegedly plotted to bomb a major U.S. news network, distributed information online on bomb-making, planned to join a violent far-right paramilitary group in Ukraine and insinuated an assassination attempt on Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.
Jarrett William Smith, a 24-year-old U.S. infantry solider last stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, has been charged with distribution of information related to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.
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According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas, Smith revealed his plans to a confidential source to bomb a “major American news network.” Smith allegedly said, “A large vehicle bomb. Fill a vehicle full of [various explosive materials] then fill a ping pong ball with [commonly available chemical] via drilling then injection. Put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave. 30 minutes later, BOOM.” The complaint’s affiant noted Smith’s instructions would not lead to a viable explosive.
In an online group conversation, which included Craig Lang, who the complaint claims fought for the paramilitary group Right Sector in Ukraine, Smith allegedly disseminated instructions to build an improvised explosive device. “I got knowledge of IEDs for days. We can make cell phone IEDs in the style of the Afghans. I can teach you that,” said Smith. Smith later allegedly explained how to make explosives out of cell phones and match heads.
Smith expressed interest to Lang in 2016 over travelling to Ukraine and fighting for the “violent far right paramilitary group” Azov Battalion, according to the complaint. The interaction occurred before Smith enlisted in the U.S. Army.
The complaint also details an online conversation between Smith and an undercover FBI agent, where Smith alludes to plans of killing O’Rourke. The undercover agent asked, “You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction and death?” Smith allegedly responded, “Outside of Beto? I don’t know enough people that would be relevant.”
The complaint also claims that Smith expressed a desire to kill Antifa members.
Smith faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.