TOPEKA, Kan. (CN) - A 21-year-old Kansas man faces 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in an ISIL-inspired plot to blow up a U.S. military base.
John T. Booker Jr. alias Mohammed Abdullah Hassan was arrested in April last year moments before he planned to attack Fort Riley with what he believed was a 1,000-pound car bomb.
Unbeknownst to Booker, the bomb he built was made with inert materials, and the two men working with him were undercover informants for the FBI.
His plea deal with federal prosecutors recommends he spend 30 years in prison.
"If this defendant had succeeded, American soldiers would have died," U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a statement. "The investigators and the attorneys who worked on this case were our line of defense against terrorism. They kept us safe."
The FBI began investigating Booker in March 2014 after the Topeka man posted his intent to commit jihad on Facebook. He began communicating with an undercover FBI informant in October that year and expressed his dream of being a fighter in the Middle East. He also proposed capturing and killing an American soldier.
On April 10, 2015 Booker and the informants drove to an area near Fort Riley that Booker believed to be a little-used utility gate where they could enter the base undetected. Federal agents arrested him when made the final connections on the device he thought would arm the bomb, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
The FBI said there was never a breach of Fort Riley, about 60 miles west of Topeka.
Booker pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted destruction of government property by fire or explosion.
His sentencing date has not yet been set.