One of the biggest fears of the intelligence community is of American citizens being radicalized by the Islamic State terror group and then carrying out attacks on American soil.
These “lone-wolf” actors are extremely hard to track. Luckily the FBI was able to intercept one would-be terrorist and bring him down before he could carry out his plan of destruction, The Kansas City Star reported.
Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr., 25, has been charged with “attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization” after the FBI conducted a lengthy undercover operation to catch him in the act.
Hester, a Missouri-born U.S. citizen with a wife and young children, was contacted by FBI agents posing as members of the Islamic State terror group and pledged to help them carry out a large-scale terror attack on Presidents Day, something 10 times larger than the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
“First on social media, then during face-to-face meetings with an undercover FBI employee, this defendant repeatedly expressed his intent to engage in acts of violent jihad against the United States,” explained Tammy Dickinson, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
“He believed he was part of an ISIS-sponsored terrorist attack that would result in the deaths and injuries of many innocent victims,” she said.
Hester’s plot reportedly involved bombing trains, buses and a train station in Kansas City.
The Boston Marathon bombing involved two crudely made bombs. It killed three people, injured hundreds more, and shut down one of America’s largest cities for an entire day. Hester’s attack would have dwarfed the Boston bombing in terms of casualities and the sheer scale of it.
CNN noted that Hester was arrested on Feb. 17 and could face 20 years in prison. KOMU reported that Hester’s neighbors were shocked to learn that he was a radical terrorist — a common theme whenever would-be jihadists are arrested.
While Hester won’t be hurting anyone for a long time, this should be a sobering reminder that there are probably many more sleeper cells and individuals like Hester out there. We all need to be vigilant.
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