(CN) – A soldier stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, has been arrested on federal charges of sending bomb-making instructions over Facebook and suggesting targeting Democrat presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke.
Authorities charged Pfc. Jarrett William Smith, 24, with one count of “distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction.” According to an FBI affidavit, Smith messaged an undercover FBI investigator on the app Telegram expressing interest in seeking fellow “radicals” and discussed targeting Antifa, cellphone towers, local news agencies and O’Rourke.
“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,” said Aleigha Cavalier, national press secretary for the O’Rourke campaign. “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.”
Authorities say Smith also expressed an interest in joining the Azov Batallion, a Ukrainian paramilitary national guard regiment, a year before he joined the U.S. Army in June 2017. Smith did his basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, before transferring to Fort Bliss, Texas, and eventually to Fort Riley this year.
Smith also detailed how an improvised explosive device (IED) could be triggered by a cellphone and how to create a “vehicle bomb” and boasted to Facebook users about his extensive background on producing IEDs, federal authorities said.
“Oh yeah, I got knowledge of IEDs for days. We can make cellphone IEDs in the style of the Afghans. I can teach you that,” Smith said in a post, according to prosecutors.
Smith faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.