An Army soldier who shared bomb-making tips online also discussed bombing a major news network and killing Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, according to a criminal compliant filed Monday.
Pvt. 1st Class Jarrett William Smith, 24, was charged with one count of distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction.
The infantryman stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, told FBI agents shortly before his arrest Saturday, according to prosecutors, that he wanted to cause “chaos” and “it doesn’t affect him” if many other people die.
After being advised of his Miranda rights, Mr. Smith told authorities that he “knows how to make improvised explosive devices and that in online chat rooms he routinely provides instruction on building explosive devices,” according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Kansas.
“He admitted that he provides this information to individuals who tell him they intend to use this complaint to cause harm to others,” an FBI agent wrote in the complaint.
Prosecutors say Pfc. Smith was in contact with another American, Craig Lang, and the two discussed fighting in Ukraine alongside Right Sector, a far-right group in that country.
Shortly after the Justice Department announced Pfc. Smith’s arrest, a “Craig Lang” Facebook page that says he lives in Ukraine, and recently became to engaged to a woman there, was taken down.
The two men, who had been in contact via Facebook, openly discussed building bombs, according to court documents.
At one point, Pfc. Smith led a Facebook group chat instructing users to make cellphones into explosive devices “in the style of Afghans,” prosecutors said.
“A group member asked about the explosive, to which Smith replied with a description of how to manufacture an explosive material using the heads of matches,” court documents say.
A bomb technician said in the criminal complaint that Pfc. Smith’s instructions on how to create explosive material out of match heads were accurate.
In August, Pfc. Smith spoke with a confidential FBI informant and discussed plans to conduct an attack in the U.S., court documents say. He allegedly told the informant he wanted to kill members of the group antifa as well as destroy cellphone towers or a local news station.
He also discussed using a vehicle bomb on the headquarters of an unnamed “major American news network,” prosecutors say.
Court documents quote Pfc. Smith as saying the attack could include “a large vehicle bomb.”
“Fill a vehicle full of [explosives] 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,” he said, according to the criminal complaint.
In a later exchange with the informant, Pfc. Smith also hinted at killing Mr. O’Rourke, a former Texas representative.
When asked by the informant if he knew anyone in Texas that would be “a good fit for fire, destruction and death,” Pfc. Smith responded, “Outside of Beto? I don’t know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died.”
A spokeswoman for the O’Rourke campaign, in a statement, said “We’re grateful to the FBI for their diligence in handling this case and for their work to keep our country safe in the face of domestic terror threats.”
“We take any threat like this very seriously 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,” the spokeswoman said.
If convicted, Pfc. Smith could get 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.