Missouri Man Charged With Planning ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Attack

  • Missouri Man Charged With Planning ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Attack

Missouri Man Charged With Planning ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Attack

The U.S. Attorney's Office says a man from Columbia has been indicted by a federal grand jury for his role trying to help plan a terrorist attack with persons he believed were members of ISIS, but who were actually undercover law enforcement agents.

None of the transportation systems was ever at risk during the sting operation, but court documents alleged that Robert Hester, Jr., purchased common bomb-making components - batteries, duct tape, copper wire and roofing nails - before delivering them to an agent posing as a local operative sympathetic to the Islamic State, also called ISIS.

The undercover agent told Hester the supposed terrorist organization was planning on "killing a lot of people" in an attack "10 times more" severe than the Boston Marathon attack, according to the complaint. Those documents allege that Hester said he wanted a "global jihad". Two undercover agents had contact with Hester dating back to the fall and had agreed to provide materials for a bomb and to participate in a Presidents' Day attack in Kansas City.

During this time, Hester repeatedly presented himself as a threat, saying the USA government should be "overthrown".

He later met with the undercover agent, promising to assist in purchasing ammunition for a cache of weapons provided by the agent.

"I don't like America, like for my kids", Hester said during a secretly recorded conversation.

After an elaborate undercover sting operation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 25-year-old Robert Lorenzo Hester of Columbia, Missouri even though the only ties he had to terrorism were the two undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, posing as ISIS terrorists, who paid him to buy terrorism supplies from a hardware store that they convinced him were for a bomb.

U.S. District Attorney Tammy Dickinson said "he believed he was part of an ISIS-sponsored terrorist attack that would result in the deaths and injuries of many innocent victims". Hester is then quoted as saying: "I can't wait".

Missouri Man Charged With Planning ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Attack
Missouri Man Charged With Planning ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Attack

He was enlisted in the U.S. Army for less than a year, receiving a general discharge from service in mid-2013.

Hester delivered that list of items to an undercover agent, and the agent then showed him several firearms and pieces of pipe set up in the manner of pipe bombs, according to the complaint.

On February 17, another agent arrived to pick up Hester up from his home, finding him with roofing nails.

During a later meeting, the documents say the undercover employee stated they would put backpacks in different locations.

According to the Star, a judge ordered Hester remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing Friday.

The affidavit indicated that Hester expressed his approval of the plan.

"The United States submits that there is clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions which the court could place on the defendant's release which would reasonably assure the defendant's appearance in court and the safety of the community", prosecutors stated.