Twenty-five year-old Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr. was arrested Friday in Columbia, Missouri and charged with attempting to give support to ISIS. Hester believed he was participating in a President’s Day terror attack in Kansas City which would be 10 times more deadly than the Boston marathon bombing. From the Kansas City Star:
“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,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tammy Dickinson said in a written statement. “He believed he was part of an ISIS-sponsored terrorist attack that would result in the deaths and injuries of many innocent victims,” she added, using a common acronym for the Islamic State.
KPLR St. Louis reports the investigation into Hester began with a tip about things he was saying on social media:
The FBI first became of aware of Hester in September 2016 following confidential sources informing them of troubling social media posts. The indictment said Hester used multiple online aliases, including “Mohammed Junaid Al Amreeki,” “Junaid Muhammad,” “Rabbani Junaid Muhammad,” “Rami Talib,” and “Ali Talib Muhammad.”
Hester was arrested last October after he threw a pocket knife through a shop window while having an argument with his wife. While he was out on bond he was contacted by an undercover FBI agent who began talking with him about an attack on the U.S. Just last month, Hester was given multiple chances to back out of the fake plot and warned it would kill a lot of Americans:
The indictment alleges the undercover officers told Hester multiple times that he could “walk away” from the plot or was informed such a mission would harm or kill a large number of people. The agents talked of an attack “10 times more” devastating than the Boston Marathon bombing, this one targeting buses, trains, and a train station in Kansas City on Monday, February 20. Hester is said to have approved of the destruction and harm and reaffirmed his commitment to the attack.
Hester is now facing up to 20 years behind bars.