A Kansas man arrested and charged Friday morning for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State was under surveillance by the FBI last year when he checked himself into a mental institution and was not regarded as an immediate threat, according to a document obtained by The Intercept.
In fact, the U.S. Army had approved the new recruit for a Secret clearance.
John T. Booker Jr., who also goes by the name Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, was arrested Friday and charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, plotting to use a weapon of mass destruction, and planning to destroy property with an explosive.
Yet in March 2014, Booker was already being watched by the FBI, who determined he had no ability to carry out an attack, according to a “Situational Information Report” issued last year by the FBI’s Kansas City division. Booker had in Feb. 2014 signed up to join the U.S. Army and had even been approved for a security clearance, the FBI document states.
Booker’s plans to join the Army were derailed the next month by his deteriorating mental health.
“BOOKER voluntarily checked himself into a mental health facility for evaluation on 26 March 2014; Kansas City Division is in contact with the facility and will be apprised if BOOKER is deemed healthy enough to be released. BOOKER has not been charged with a crime at present. BOOKER does not have access to a vehicle or other form of transportation at this time, nor is there evidence he possess firearms,” the report, issued March 30, 2014, stated.
What changed in the following year was not necessarily Booker’s mental state, but the introduction of two FBI informants into his life.
It is unclear when Booker was released from the mental health institution, but in Oct. 2014 he met the first of two FBI informants. By the spring of 2015, Booker had been introduced to the second informant — and, according to the indictment unsealed Friday, the two informants provided the 20-year-old with the materials and support that led to his arrest on Friday on charges stemming from his alleged plans to carry out an attack against Fort Riley in support of the Islamic State.
There were early warning signs of Booker’s interest in terrorism — and his mental instability. In the months prior to signing up for the U.S. Army — and being granted a secret-level clearance — Booker has posted a series of comments on social media, saying he wanted to “wage jihad” against America.
“I wanna be a martyr (shaheed)!!! YA, brothers and sisters,” Booker said in a comment on YouTube five months before enlisting in the military.
Around the same time, months before being approved for a security clearance, Booker posted in the comments section of a YouTube video showing graphic video of American soldiers under fire in Iraq in 2008. “I’m am Muslim. Muslims had no business in Iraq,” Booker wrote.
On March 9, a month after he enlisted at the Kansas City recruiting station, Booker posted a series of photos of Osama bin Laden holding various weapons. “Allahu Akbar J Sheikh Osama bin Laden and his army,” reads a post by one photo.
On March 15, a post on Facebook expressed Booker’s desire to die for his beliefs. “I want to be with my lord so bad that I cry but I will miss you guys I am not going to lie,” he wrote.
Those comments, and the initial FBI warning, were first written about by this reporter for FoxNews.com. An FBI spokesperson attempted to downplay the threat at the time.
“We have interviewed this individual,” the spokeswoman told this reporter at the time. “There is no imminent threat to public safety, nor should the public be concerned that this threat exists from an individual at large.”