An American soldier at Fort Riley in Kansas has been arrested after allegedly discussing an attack on a major U.S. news network, sharing instructions on building a bomb and targeting Beto O’Rourke, authorities announced Monday.
Jarrett William Smith, 24, was charged with one count of distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction, the Justice Department announced in a news release.
Smith, a private first class infantry soldier, allegedly spoke to an undercover FBI agent last month and discussed plans to conduct an attack in the U.S. He said he was looking for more “radicals” like himself and mentioned killing members of the far-left group Antifa, according to an affidavit.
He allegedly suggested a major American news network, the name of which was redacted from the affidavit, could be the target of a vehicle bomb.
“A large vehicle bomb. Fill a vehicle full of [explosives] then fill a ping pong ball with [commonly available chemical] via drilling, then injection. Put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave. 30 minutes later, BOOM,” Smith allegedly said.
Smith again engaged in conversation with an undercover FBI agent on Friday, allegedly having an exchange over a person who would make a good target to kill. He appears to refer to 2020 Democratic presidential contender and former Texas congressman O’Rourke.
“FBI: You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction and death?
SMITH: Outside of Beto? I don't know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died.”
O’Rourke responded later Monday after a town hall in Gary, Indiana: “We have been sharing any information that's relevant with the FBI, and are very confident in their ability to bring this case to justice and protect our fellow Americans.”
“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. We take any threat like this very seriously, and our team is in direct contact with the FBI regarding this case,” O’Rourke campaign spokeswoman Aleigha Cavalier said. “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.”
In December of last year, Smith offered to teach others over Facebook chat how to make cellphone explosive devices “in the style of the Afghans,” according to the affidavit.
He allegedly told investigators who questioned him before his arrest that he wanted to cause “chaos” by giving information to those who intended to harm others.
A year before joining the Army, Smith expressed a desire to join the violent, far-right Ukrainian paramilitary group called Azov Battalion, officials said.
Smith joined the Army June 12, 2017, and was transferred to Fort Riley, Kan., on July 8.
He could face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted.
Fox News' Kelly Phares in Gary, Ind., and Mark Meredith contributed to this report.