KANSAS CITY, Kansas (AP) – A Kansas man accused of trying to bomb an Army installation in support of a terrorist group on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to three federal charges.
John T. Booker Jr., 20, of Topeka, appeared in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, wearing an orange jumpsuit and his legs in shackles, The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1OChysl ) reported. He politely responded to U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. O’Hara’s questions as he entered his plea.
Booker was arrested April 10 while trying to arm what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb inside a van near the Army post an hour west of Topeka, according to court documents.
He is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property by means of an explosive, and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State group.
Prosecutors allege Booker told an FBI informant he wanted to kill Americans and engage in violent jihad on behalf of IS, and that he believed such an attack was justified because the Quran “says to kill your enemies wherever they are,” according to a criminal complaint.
A Muslim cleric who said he was counseling the suspect at the request of the FBI told The Associated Press that Booker suffers from bipolar disorder and had been acting strangely days prior to his arrest.
Booker has waived a detention hearing and will remain in custody pending trial. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
A second Topeka man, who was charged with knowing about Booker’s plan but failing to report him to authorities, was ordered released into his parents’ custody last week.