CNN appears to have been the target of yet another planned attack that was struck down by the FBI.
According to CNN, an Army soldier discussed bomb-making techniques and bombing a major American news network’s HQ.
The network name was redacted in the court docs. That said, CNN law enforcement & national security Josh Campbell said two of his sources informed him the network the soldier planned to terrorize was indeed CNN.
CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker apparently sent a brief memo to CNN staffers addressing the situation:
Memo from CNN prez Jeff Zucker: “I want to assure everyone that there was never any imminent threat to any CNN locations. We continue to actively monitor these issues on a daily basis and work closely with our security teams around the world and our partners in law enforcement.”
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) September 23, 2019
In addition to the network, the soldier, 24-year-old Jarrett William Smith, reportedly named presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke as a possible target before being arrested over the weekend, according to court documents released earlier today.
CNN‘s Katelyn Polantz reports that Smith was charged with distribution of information related to weapons of mass destruction after offering to teach others bomb-making and discussing bombing the news network’s headquarters, according to documents in Kansas federal court. He was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas before his arrest on Saturday.
Smith allegedly discussed with a confidential source to the FBI that “the headquarters of a major American news network would be a suggested target, utilizing a vehicle bomb,” an FBI agent wrote in court papers.
Smith made an initial appearance in Kansas federal court Monday afternoon. He is scheduled to appear again in federal court for a detention hearing on Thursday in Topeka, Kan.
According to court documents, Smith also mentioned O’Rourke in a chat with an undercover FBI agent on September 20. The undercover agent had told Smith he was looking to target a politician, and Smith responded with instructions on making a bomb or grenade.
“You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction and death?” the undercover agent reportedly said to him. “Outside of Beto? I don’t know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died,” Smith replied. The FBI had begun tracking Smith in March, who had been stationed in Texas since 2017. He was transferred to Fort Riley in July.
Army Lt. Col. Terence Kelley, the director of public affairs for the 1st Infantry Division in Kansas, confirmed Smith is an active duty soldier. He said the Army cooperated with the FBI in its investigation.
“These allegations violate our Army Values so we take them very seriously,” Kelley said in the statement, according to Polantz. “Our law enforcement team cooperated with the FBI on his arrest over the weekend.”