Federal authorities have charged a Fort Riley soldier who is accused of providing instructions for making improvised explosives during Facebook conversations about killing liberal politicians and activists.
Jarrett Smith, a private first class infantry soldier, also said he wanted to target a news network with a car bomb and travel to Ukraine to fight with a violent far-right paramilitary group. He told an undercover investigator he was looking for fellow radicals.
Smith faces a charge of distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction, which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. In an affidavit supporting Smith's arrest, an FBI agent said Smith admitted he routinely provides instruction on building explosives in online chat rooms.
"He admitted that he provides this information even to individuals who tell him they intend to use the information to cause harm to others," said special agent Brandon LaMar. "Smith stated that he did this to cause chaos. He told me that if chaos results in the death of people, even through information he provided, it doesn't affect him."
Smith transferred in July to Fort Riley after being stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, since November 2017. The FBI began investigating his Facebook account in March.
An investigation revealed Smith was communicating with radicals in Texas three years ago. Smith led a chat group on Facebook where he discussed his ability to build IEDs.
"We can make cellphone IEDs in the style of the Afghans," Smith told the group. "I can teach you that."
He also described ways to make an explosive material using the heads of matches.
In August, a confidential source engaged Smith in a series of discussions in which the soldier talked about wanting to kill members of antifa, or antifascist activists. Smith also wanted to attack a major American news network with a vehicle filled with explosive materials and a ping pong ball injected with a chemical.
"Put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave," Smith told the confidential source. "Thirty minutes later, BOOM."
On Sept. 20, Smith provided bomb-making instructions to an undercover agent who said he wanted to target politicians in Texas. The targets included unnamed members of Congress and a liberal Texas mayor.
When the agent asked Smith if there was anyone in Texas who was "fit for fire, destruction and death," the soldier named former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, now a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.
"Outside of Beto? I don't know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died," Smith said.
Smith warned the undercover agent to be careful with the fully armed device, which could detonate prematurely because of telemarketers or people calling the wrong number. The bomb would be big enough to destroy a U.S. military vehicle, Smith promised, and obliterate any nearby civilian vehicles.
"You would need (various chemicals and equipment), a large amount of either black powder or smokeless powder, and a cellphone with active service," Smith said.
"I got money," the undercover agent replied. "Just need the knowledge. I was thinking of something stable."
A cheap gas grenade, Smith said, could be assembled from commonly available materials. Another makeshift grenade could be ignited by tossing a firecracker.
Smith was arrested Saturday, following an interview with LaMar. Smith was read his Miranda rights before acknowledging the remarks he made online.