Army private charged with distributing bomb-making instructions
Kevin Johnson and Tom Vanden Brook
Published 2:31 PM EDT Sep 23, 2019
A 24-year-old Army private was charged Monday with distributing bomb-making instructions on social media to mimic devices recovered in Afghanistan and referred to Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke in a discussion of possible targets.
Jarrett William Smith, an infantryman stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, is accused of offering to teach Facebook users how to construct explosive devices that could be triggered by cell phone.
As recently as last week, during an exchange with an undercover investigator, Smith allegedly referred to “Beto” when asked by the investigator what public figure might be “a good fit” for an attack.
“You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction
and death?” the undercover investigator asked.
“Outside of Beto? I don’t know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died,” Smith allegedly responded.
Prosecutors also claimed that Smith expressed an interest in traveling to Ukraine to fight with the Azov Batallion, a far-right paramilitary group with ties to white supremacists.
Smith joined the Army in 2017 and transferred to the sprawling Kansas post two months ago from Fort Bliss, Texas. Last month, prosecutors alleged, the soldier discussed “killing” members of the anti-facist movement known as Antifa.
If convicted, Smith faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Lt. Col. Terence Kelley, an Army spokesman, said Smith is from Conway, S.C., and he had not been deployed.
“These allegations violate our Army values so we take them very seriously,” Kelley said. “Our law enforcement team cooperated with the FBI on his arrest over the weekend.”