This most recent case of John T Booker Jr is just amazing in being like pretty much every other FBI arrest of a home grown terrorist: it starts and ends with the FBI. John Eligon at The New York Times managed to report on the whole thing as though he were totally unaware of the FBI’s history regarding these things, Two Kansas Men Charged in Suicide Attack Plot at Fort Riley. Actually, there is just one man: Booker. The other is a friend who allegedly knew what Booker was up to. But this case is even more sad than usual. Booker, who is just 20 years old, is clearly mentally ill.
Early last year, he began making very public statements about wanting to commit Jihad. The FBI was well aware of this and had created a five-page report on him date 20 March 2014. He had signed up for the army, but apparently the FBI put an end to that. On 26 March 2014, he checked himself into a mental hospital. On 1 April 2014, Jana Winter at Fox News reported, FBI, Military Hunt Ex-Army Recruit Suspected of Plotting “Fort Hood-Inspired Jihad.” But the FBI didn’t think it was too big a deal because Booker had neither car nor guns. What he did have, however, was a death wish.
So in October 2014, the FBI sent an undercover agent to talk to Booker, who was, as he had been for years, still talking about Jihad. But just as impotent as ever, the FBI decided to set him up with what he needed to carry out his fantasy suicide plot. So without a hint of irony, Eligon reported, “Mr Booker agreed to let the informants make the car bomb and planned to drive it onto the base to detonate it, killing himself in the process, the complaint said.” So really, the extent of Booker’s involvement was his suicide.
The first indications of Booker’s behavior come around a year and a half ago — about the time of his 18th birthday. This also happens to be around the time that psychosis tends to start in people. Booker was very clearly a young man who needed psychiatric help. When he went to get help, the authorities seemed to have determined that he was not a threat to himself or anyone else and so he was released. But looking at his statements, I don’t see a young man who is really engaged or violent. I just see a young man who is suicidal. For example, “I am going to wage jihad and hopes that i die. I want to be with my lord so bad that I cry but I will miss you guys I am not going to lie. I wish I could give you guys more but I am just a guy who is so very poor. I am telling you I am so broke that my pockets are soreJ I cannot wait to go to the Prophet Muhammad’s(S) door and prank Isa bin Maryan and party so hard that it will rock Jannah to its core.”
But there was one government agency that cared about Booker: the FBI. They were there to listen to him and pretend to make his dreams a reality. The FBI did what actual Jihadists do in Palestine: find depressed or otherwise disaffected young people and get them to perform evil acts as they commit suicide. We should be better than this. John T Booker Jr deserved to get the help that he needed, not to be used as a pawn for the FBI to justify its budget. And US media should be wise to this game that the FBI plays. The New York Times headline should have been, “FBI Foils Another of Its Own Terror Plots.” And they might write another article, “Mental Healthcare Still Not Easily Available.”