Real and determined terrorists will almost certainly not brag about their upcoming exploits on social media. Posting such musings for all to see is more likely indicative of mental infirmity than true terroristic tendencies.
Nevertheless, social media provides fertile ground for FBI agents and federal prosecutors to make names for themselves by "preventing" terrorist attacks. That the perpetrators are typically mentally and/or emotionally challenged and only following a plot scripted by the FBI and their informants is rarely reported.
The latest iteration of this well-worn story occurred on April 10, 2015, when 20-year-old John T. Booker, Jr., of Topeka, Kansas, was arrested by federal agents for allegedly plotting to detonate a bomb at the Fort Riley military base in Kansas. Various media outlets dutifully reported the government's version of events, complete with headlines like "Kansas man tried to bomb U.S. military base" and "Kansas man accused of plotting to detonate bomb at Fort Riley military base."
Booker was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property with an explosive, and attempting to provide material support to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, designated as a foreign terrorist organization.
The FBI reportedly began investigating Booker shortly after he tried to join the Army a year ago. Soon thereafter, he posted messages to Facebook indicating he was getting ready to wage a holy war.
"Getting ready to be killed in jihad is a HUGE adrenaline rush!! I am so nervous. NOT because I'm scared to die but I am eager to meet my lord," Booker allegedly posted.
The complaint says the FBI first became aware of Mr. Booker on March 15, 2014, when a citizen alerted them to statements he had posted on Facebook, which allegedly included, "I will soon be leaving you forever so goodbye! I'm going to wage jihad and hopes (sic) that I die.''
It is little wonder then that the Army rejected Booker. Sensing an opportunity, the FBI sent undercover operatives to talk with him over the next several months in an effort to elicit incriminating statements, according to the complaint. Booker allegedly told these undercover informants, most likely after sufficient prompting, that he wanted to carry out a suicide bombing at the Fort Riley Army base on behalf of ISIS.
Not satisfied with archiving the musings of a mentally impaired man, the FBI created a terrorist plot and drew Booker into it. The government informants provided Booker with information that included how to build a bomb.
In conversations with the FBI's confidential informants, Booker allegedly said "he wanted to see the fear in the soldiers' eyes as he pushed the button and they ran for their lives."
The government claims that Booker then allegedly directed the informant to area retailers where he could buy the materials, but based upon past entrapments of this sort, it seems more plausible that it was the informants who were in fact directing Booker. Likely under government direction and at their urging, prosecutors further claim he then made a propaganda video and scouted out the best routes to carry out an attack.
The FBI readily admits that at no time was there any danger to soldiers stationed at the base and that security personnel at the base were aware of the investigation. "I want to assure the public there was never any breach of Fort Riley Military Base, nor was the safety or the security of the base or its personnel ever at risk," said Kansas City FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson. Regardless, most media accounts portrayed the arrest of Booker as the timely foiling of an active terror plot.
Booker's arrest is similar in many ways to the countless other terrorism cases supposedly thwarted by the FBI. The agents provided the money and materials for the plot, and there is a stunning dearth of evidence that Booker could have engaged in any criminal activity had he not been urged and enabled by federal agents and informants.
Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute examined many of these cases in detail. In their report, a pattern quickly becomes clear in which you begin to see that there is often less to the alleged terrorist plots than meets the eye. In more than a decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the FBI, often targeting American-Muslim communities, has regularly worked to create ersatz terrorist plots. Agents and their informants routinely supply the plan, the means and even the motivation. They then vigorously encourage their target to follow through with the government-inspired attack, often offering a financial incentive. In many if not most of the documented cases, those targeted for these "investigations" suffered from mental illness or were desperately poor, or sometimes both.