Washington, D.C. — An Army soldier serving in Kansas shared bomb-making instructions online and discussed killing activists and bombing a news network, the Justice Department contends. According to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Kansas, the Army solider spoke with an undercover FBI agent on the Telegram messenger app, where he relayed instructions on how to make "a Middle East style bomb."
Jarrett William Smith, a 24-year old private first class infantry soldier stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, was charged with one count of distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction.
Smith joined the Army on June 12, 2017 and was transferred to Fort Riley on July 8, 2019.
Prosecutors allege Smith discussed his plan to kill far-left-leaning "antifa" activists and described how to build a bomb that could be triggered by calling a cellphone. Smith reportedly said on Facebook that he wanted to travel to Ukraine to fight with a paramilitary group known as Azov Battalion.
Smith also suggested targeting a major news network with a car bomb, though the news network was not identified in the complaint. Smith appeared to be targeting former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke as well, according to prosecutors. O'Rourke is currently running for president in the 2020 presidential election.
"You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction and death?" the undercover FBI agent allegedly asked Smith.
"Outside of Beto? I don't know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died," Smith said allegedly.
In a statement to CBS News, O'Rourke's national press secretary thanked the FBI for its diligence: "We take any threat like this very seriously," Aleigha Cavalier said. "And our team is in direct contact with the FBI regarding this case. This isn't about any one person or one campaign and we won't let this scare us or cause us to back down in fighting for what's right."
Smith was arrested Saturday. In an interview before his arrest, Smith told investigators he knew how to make improvised explosive devices and routinely provided instruction on building them. He stated he did this to cause "chaos."
Smith could face up to to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if he is convicted. The FBI investigated the case, while U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi will prosecute.