Indictment: Soldier in bomb plot wanted to set fire to home

National News

FILE – In this Feb. 9, 2015 file photo, an honor guard stands at the entrance before ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new 1st Infantry Division Headquarters at Fort Riley, Kan. Prosecutors say a U.S. Army infantry soldier stationed at Fort Riley shared bomb-making instructions online and also discussed killing activists and bombing a news network. The Justice Department says Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, that private first class Jarrett William Smith was charged with distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner File)

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal grand jury in Kansas has indicted an Army soldier on charges that he distributed explosives information and threatened to set fire to a home.

The indictment charged Jarrett William Smith with two counts related to the explosives and one count linked to trying to gain entry to a home and injure someone listed only as D.H. The indictment alleges he made the threat from Kansas to Michigan.

The 24-year-old private first class and infantry soldier from South Carolina is stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was initially charged in a criminal complaint on Monday. He remains in custody pending a detention hearing Thursday afternoon.

His defense attorney, Rich Federico, declined to comment.

An FBI affidavit filed in support of the initial charges alleged Smith discussed his plan to kill far-left-leaning “antifa” activists and described how to build a bomb that could be triggered by calling a cellphone. It accuses him of posting on Facebook that he was interested in traveling to Ukraine to fight with a paramilitary group known as Azov Batallion. That affidavit had also alleged Smith suggested targeting an unidentified major news network with a car bomb.

Smith has been assigned to Fort Riley since June after serving at Fort Bliss, Texas, beginning in November 2017. He entered the Army from Conway, South Carolina, as an infantryman and completed training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He has not deployed.

Television station WPDE reported that when Smith was a 15-year-old student, he appeared on the “hit list” of another teenager who tried in September 2010 to blow up a high school in Socastee, South Carolina. The indictment makes no reference to that incident.

The station reported that Christian Helms, then 14, brought a gun and other weapons to the school, firing a shot at the school resource officer. Helms had also brought pipe bombs to the school in his backpack and had a list of 13 students who were his intended targets. Smith was among them.

WPDE-TV released a video interview recorded in 2011 in which they interviewed Smith and his father after Helms was sentenced to six years. The station said that Smith said he was often bullied at school because of his cleft lip.

His father, Chris Smith, told the station that the teenager who targeted his son idolized the two killers in the Columbine high school attack in 1999.


Associated Press writer Roxana Hegeman contributed to this report from Wichita, Kansas.


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