US soldier wanted to help people make bombs for domestic attacks, attorney says

US soldier wanted to help people make bombs for domestic attacks, attorney says
The FBI says an Army soldier stationed at Fort Riley made plans to target a cell tower or news station with a car bomb. (Source: KWCH)

FORT RILEY, Kansas (WIBW/Gray News) - A Fort Riley soldier said he wanted to cause “chaos” whenever he sent people instructions on how to make improvised explosive devices to people who intended to harm others, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office affidavit.

Spec. Jarrett William Smith talked about destroying a local news station and nearby cell towers as well as killing members of Antifa, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.

Smith, 24, was arrested Saturday without incident at the post, according to a Fort Riley spokesperson. He faces a single count of distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction.

He appeared in a Kansas City federal court Monday and has a preliminary and detention hearing set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

In a statement to WIBW, Lt. Col. Terence M. Kelley said the allegations “violate our Army Values so we take them very seriously.”

Making plans

The affidavit details a conversation on September 20, 2019, in which Smith allegedly discussed building a bomb and targeting members of the federal government, including former El Paso mayor Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is currently running for the Democratic nomination for president.

The affidavit’s transcript of the conversation, which allegedly took place over the privacy-focused chat app Telegram, showed Smith coming up with the type of explosives which should be used and explaining how to build them. The other person in the conversation was only described as a confidential source.

“That's the best way to fight people. Making AK-47s out of expensive parts is cool, but imagine of you will if you were going to WalMart instead of gun store to buy weapons,” he reportedly said.

Smith went on to offer the instructions as well as instructions for multiple types of grenades, according to the complaint.

"I got knowledge of IEDs for days”

The affidavit also listed several prior conversations on Facebook in which Smith appeared to brag about his skill at making explosives and his desire to fight in Ukraine. In June 2016, Smith reportedly told another individual, identified as Chris Lang, that he wanted to fight in Ukraine. While Lang did go on to fight with the Right Sector, Smith, who hailed from Conway, South Carolina, ended up joining the Army approximately a year later.

In a Facebook group conversation after he joined the military, but before coming to Kansas, Smith allegedly said he had “knowledge of IEDs for days” and can make explosives “in the style of the Afghans,” describing one that can be detonated with a cell phone. He also detailed one that can be made with heads of matches that experts say can or cannot work, depending on what type of matches are used, federal prosecutors said.

On July 8, 2019, approximately two years after joining the Army as an 11B infantryman, Smith was transferred from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Fort Riley.

A month later, on August 19, he was reportedly telling to the FBI’s confidential source he wanted to find other “radicals” like himself for an attack in the U.S., possibly “destroying nearby cell towers or a local news station.” Two days later, he allegedly brought up using a large vehicle bomb at the headquarters of a major news network.

If convicted, Smith could face up to twenty years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.

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