TIME Terrorism

Kansas Man Arrested for Plotting Attack on Army Base, Pledging Loyalty to ISIS

"We will bring the Islamic State straight to your doorstep."

A Kansas man was arrested Friday for planning to detonate a bomb at a U.S. army base and pledging loyalty to the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), prosecutors said, the latest of several ISIS-related arrests on American soil.

John T. Booker, a 20-year old U.S. Citizen from Topeka, was planning a suicide attack on the Fort Riley army base in Kansas in an attempt to support ISIS, authorities said. A criminal complaint alleges that Booker, who also goes by the name Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, posted to Facebook “I will soon be leaving you forever so goodbye! I’m going to wage jihad and hopes that i die” and “Getting ready to be killed in jihad is HUGE adrenaline rush!! I am so nervous. NOT because I’m scared to die but I am eager to meet my lord.”

The alleged plot comes in the wake of other home-grown terrorism arrests over the last two weeks. On Thursday, a Wisconsin man was arrested for trying to join ISIS, and last Friday a Philadelphia mother of two was arrested for trying to go to Syria to martyr herself for the group. And last week, two New York City women were arrested after allegedly plotting a Boston Marathon-style attack.

When the FBI questioned Booker about his Facebook posts, he said he enlisted in the U.S. Army with the intent to commit an insider attack like Major Nidal Hassan did at Fort Hood in Texas, according to prosecutors. He said if his army officer ever told him to kill a fellow Muslim, he would kill the officer instead.

After waiving his Miranda rights, Booker also told the agents that he intended to target high-ranking army officials, but that he didn’t envision using a machine gun—he was more interested in an attack with a small gun or sword. This led to Booker being denied entry into the military, but he was not immediately arrested.

Throughout his plan to attack Fort Riley, Booker was accompanied by two undercover FBI agents who he believed were helping him. Booker rented two storage units where he kept materials and explosives for a car bomb, and planned for the accomplices to build the bomb, prosecutors said. The plan was for Booker and one of the accomplices to bring the bomb to Fort Riley and for Booker to detonate it himself, since he wanted to be the one to flip the switch, prosecutors said.

Booker also asked the undercover officers to take care of his debts so he could enter paradise as a martyr after his death. In one of the videos he made about his plan, he said:

“Today, Inshallah, we are going to build this bomb with 1,000 pounds of Ammonium Nitrate… This message is to you, America. You sit in your homes and you think that this war is just over in Iraq… we will bring the Islamic State straight to your doorstep. You think this is just a game… when this bomb blows up and kills as many kuffar [non-Muslims] as possible, maybe then you’ll realize it.

Booker was arrested by FBI agents Friday, as he drove in to Fort Riley to carry out the attack. As he was making preparations to detonate the device, he was taken into custody. He is facing federal charges for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. property. Booker, who is being represented by the Federal Public Defender’s office, will plead not guilty.

TIME Crime

Woman Faces Prison After Getting Married 10 Times

She faces up to four years in prison if convicted

A New York City woman is facing felony charges after authorities discovered she’d been married 10 times in 11 years, and at one point may have been married to up to eight men at once.

Liana Barrientos, 39, of the Bronx, married 10 different men between 1999 and 2010, but prosecutors say she wasn’t as fond of divorces. She is currently married to four people, prosecutors said, and was married six times in 2002 alone.

Barrientos is being charged with two felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing, for filing a false marriage application and license, and could face up to four years in prison if convicted.

She pleaded not guilty to both charges, and calls to her lawyer were not immediately returned.

TIME Terrorism

These 5 Facts Explain Terrorism in Kenya

Family members sit on a bench as they wait to view the bodies of their loved ones who had been killed in an attack on Garissa University College, at a mortuary in Nairobi on April 8, 2015.
Dai Kurokawa—EPA Family members sit on a bench as they wait to view the bodies of their loved ones who had been killed in an attack on Garissa University College, at a mortuary in Nairobi on April 8, 2015.

Porous borders,a bad economy and corruption have made Kenya a sitting target for al-Shabab

The tragic Garissa University College attack in Kenya on April 2 led to 147 deaths and a global outpouring of shock and sympathy. But it didn’t approach the intense level of commentary—from journalists and world leaders alike—that the Charlie Hebdo attack in France garnered, despite a far higher death toll. To put this tragedy in context, it’s important to understand the state of play between al-Shabab and Kenya. Here are five stats on the attacks that cover everything from the porous Kenya-Somalia border to the cash incentive for would-be terrorist recruits.

1. Kenya suffers more than its share

The fight against al-Shabab in East Africa is a regional effort. With 3,664 people deployed, Kenya provides fewer personnel to the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia than Uganda, Ethiopia or Burundi do. Yet it is Kenya that has borne the brunt of al-Shabab’s attacks outside Somalia. Since 2012, the group has killed over 600 people in Kenya. There has been only one major attack outside Somalia’s borders that didn’t target Kenya: the 2010 Kampala bombings. The Garissa siege was the deadliest terror attack in Kenya since the 1998 al-Qaeda bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi.

(The Boston Globe, Council on Foreign Relations, The New York Times, The Washington Post)

2. The problem of porous borders

A porous border helps Al-Shabab target Kenya. Though the Kenyan government has announced plans to build a wall along parts of the 424 mile-long border with Somalia, the structure could cost as much as $17 billion—and it wouldn’t address other glaring issues. Kenya’s police force is among the most corrupt in East Africa; members of al-Shabab can easily buy passage and visas from officials. Payments to officers made up almost 50% of all bribes in Kenya in 2014. Garissa County is particularly vulnerable. The area is home to Dadaab, one of the world’s biggest refugee camps with over 336,000 Somalis. Garissa was the victim of more than a fifth of al-Shabab’s attacks in Kenya between 2009 and 2013.

(Global Terrorism Database, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, BBC)

3. Weak security

The siege at Garissa lasted nearly 15 hours. Yet, security forces were only deployed 7 hours after the attack began, and there was a two-hour briefing when they arrived in the area. They didn’t enter the university until 11 hours had passed. Why the glacial response? The two fixed-wing planes that security forces flew in were too small for all of the officers and their equipment; no police choppers were available. Despite legislation passed in 2011 to overhaul the police, intelligence and defense forces in Kenya, not much progress has been made. Anti-terror police units in Nairobi have a budget as low as $735 per month for operations, and police officers are paid around $200 per month. For comparison, some Kenyan parliamentarians earn up to $15,000 monthly. According to some estimates, over 300,000 people are employed as private security guards in Kenya, whereas Kenya’s police force numbers approximately 60,000.

(The Boston Globe, Daily Mail, Daily Nation, Aljazeera)

4. Local tensions

Muslims make up about a tenth of Kenya’s population, and they reside primarily in the Northeast and along the coast. These communities lag in development, due to limited public and private investment, giving rise to local tension and instability. The northeast region bordering Somalia, an area the size of Mississippi, has less than 100 miles of tarmacked roads. Kenyan-Somali clan conflict and banditry has led to past conflicts in the area, including the 1980 Garissa massacre and the 1984 Wagalla massacre—resulting in the deaths of over 4,000 ethnic Somalis. Though Garissa County is a predominantly ethnic Somali area, students from across Kenya attend the university. The Shabab attackers singled out Christians for execution.

(The Guardian, The World Post, Aljazeera, Climate Change and Security Conference, The New York Times)

5. Recruiting made easy

Al-Shabab translates to ‘the youth’ in Arabic, a fitting name for an organization that feeds off limited opportunities for young people in the region. According to BBC News, roughly a quarter of al-Shabab’s 7,000-9,000 forces are Kenyan. Many of them were attracted to al-Shabab’s high salaries for new recruits, which are reportedly more than $1,000. Meanwhile, the average monthly wage in Kenya is $76 ($912 annual). Some 70% of working class youth are currently unemployed.

(BBC News (a), BBC News (b), Reuters, Aljazeera)

TIME Crime

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Probably Won’t End Up in Massachusetts

A life sentence would likely take him to Colorado while death row would be in Indiana

The federal jury that found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts in the Boston Marathon bombing Wednesday is now set to decide whether he should get the death penalty — but he’s unlikely to end up in the state of Massachusetts.

A death sentence would see Tsarnaev sent to the Midwest, while a sentence of life imprisonment would most likely send him to a supermax prison in Colorado.

If Tsarnaev is sentenced to death, he’ll sit on death row in Indiana. The federal government has executed only three inmates in the last 50 years: Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; Juan Raul Garza, a reputed drug trafficker convicted of killing three people; and Louis Jones, a Gulf War veteran who kidnapped, raped and murdered a woman on a military base. All of them were executed in the last 15 years, and each execution took place at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., the only location where the federal government carries out capital punishment in the U.S.

If Tsarnaev is given a life sentence, however, he could end up at one of a number of supermax facilities around the U.S., says Harvard University law professor Carol Steiker. The most likely is ADX Florence in Colorado, the federal government’s only supermax facility, nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”

The Colorado prison was designed to hold inmates like Terry Nichols, a co-conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph—all individuals the government feared could pose a potential threat while in custody.

Steiker says it will be up to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to choose where to hold Tsarnaev if he’s given life. North Carolina’s Butner Federal Correctional Institution, which holds Omar Abdel-Rahman—convicted on charges of conspiracy stemming from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York—is also a possibility. The federal jail in Massachusetts where he is currently being held, FMC Devens, is designed mainly for male inmates requiring mental or medical care.

It’s far from clear whether a jury made up of residents of Massachusetts, which abolished the death penalty in 1984, will decide on a death sentence for Tsarnaev. Although jurors were chosen on their willingness to vote for the death penalty, most polls show Massachusetts residents to be majority anti-capital punishment.

While a Boston Globe poll in July found that 62% of respondents supported the federal government in seeking the death penalty for Tsarnaev, another poll by the newspaper in September found that 57% of respondents actually supported a life sentence for Tsarnaev. Only a third at the time said they favored the death penalty.

MORE: Boston Bombing Survivor: Either Sentence is Too Good for Tsarnaev

Massachusetts is also considered the most Catholic state in the country, with almost one in two residents identifying with the faith. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty, and in the last few days, Catholic leaders around the state have publicly favored a life sentence. At least one Boston Marathon bombing victim has come out in favor of sparing Tsarnaev the death penalty, according to The New York Times.

MONEY investing strategy

16 Facts You Never Would Have Believed Before They Happened

"History never looks like history when you are living through it." — John W. Gardner

A reminder for those making predictions.

You would have never believed it if, in the mid-1980s, someone told you that in the next two decades the Soviet Union would collapse, Japan’s economy would stagnate for 20 years, China would become a superpower, and North Dakota would be ground zero for global energy growth.

You would have never believed it if, in 1930, someone told you there would be a surge in the birthrate from 1945 to 1965, creating a massive generation that would have all kinds of impacts on the economy and society.

You would have never believed it if, in 2004, someone told you a website run by a 19-year-old college dropout on which you look at pictures of your friends would be worth nearly a quarter-trillion dollars in less than a decade. (Nice job, Facebook.)

You would never have believed it if, in 1900, as your horse and buggy got stuck in the mud, someone pointed to the moon and said, “We’ll be walking on that during our lifetime.”

You would have never believed it if, in late 1945, someone told you that after Hiroshima and Nagasaki no country would use a nuclear weapon in war for at least seven decades.

You would have never believed it if, eight years ago, someone told you the Federal Reserve would print $3 trillion and what followed would be some of the lowest inflation in decades.

You would have never believed it if, in 2000, someone told you Enron was about to go bankrupt and Apple would become the most innovative, valuable company in the world. (The opposite looked highly likely.)

You would have never believed it if, in 1910, when forecasts predicted the United States would deplete its oil within 10 years, that a century later we’d be pumping 8.6 million barrels of oil a day.

You would have never believed it if, three years ago, someone told you that Uber, an app connecting you with a stranger in a Honda Civic, would be worth almost as much as General Motors.

You would have never believed it if, 15 years ago, someone told you that you’d be able to watch high-definition movies and simultaneously do your taxes on a 4-inch piece of glass and metal.

You would have never believed it if, in 2000, someone said the biggest news story of the next decade — economically, politically, socially, and militarily — would be a group of guys with box cutters.

You would have never believed it if, in 2002, someone told you we’d go at least 11 years without another major terrorist attack in America.

You would have never believed it if, in 1997, someone told you that the biggest threat to Microsoft were two Stanford students working out of a garage on a search engine with an odd, misspelled name.

You would have never believed it if, just a few years ago, someone told you investors would be buying government debt with negative interest rates.

You would have never believed it if, in 2008, as U.S. “peak oil” arguments were everywhere, that within six years America would be pumping more oil than Saudi Arabia.

You would have never believed it if, after the lessons of World War I, someone told you there’d be an even bigger war 25 years later.

But all of that stuff happened. And they were some of the most important stories of the last 100 years. The next 100 years will be the same.

For more on this:

TIME Terrorism

Cops Shot Too Soon in Boston Bombing Manhunt, Report Finds

"Weapons discipline was lacking" during manhunt and standoff, report says

A long-awaited government report on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings praised law enforcement for their quick and effective response to the fatal attack, but noted that officers who cornered alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a boat several days later may have fired on him too soon.

The report is mostly a play-by-play of the bombing and subsequent manhunt from April 15 to 19, 2013. Much of the report details the effective coordination of law enforcement, medical personnel, marathon officials and hospital staff. For example, all the patients who went to the hospital survived their injuries, and medical tents at the finish line of the marathon were instrumental in providing on-site medical care.

But the report also details some areas for improvement, including in how careful police are when firing their guns. The report noted that “weapons discipline was lacking,” both during the firefight with the Tsarnaev brothers and during the standoff with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the boat on April 19. In that standoff, police opened fire on the boat after hearing a gunshot that they believed came from Tsarnaev, but actually came from a fellow police officer, who had fired inappropriately, the report found.

There was also an incident when officers fired on a suspicious-looking unmarked black truck that was actually driven by plainclothes officers, who were both unhurt. The report warned that “each of these incidents created a dangerous crossfire situation.”

While many different teams worked quickly and efficiently to keep Boston safe, the report also noted that there was room for improvement in coordination between city agencies, which “created confusion at times.” The report recommended that each city agency have a designated emergency representative to coordinate with other agencies, and that the city develop a more unified emergency response policy for the future.

Another area for improvement was in hospital evidence collection. The report said that hospital personnel were “intimidated” by the heavily armed police officers questioning victims and witnesses, and that there was not a streamlined procedure for gathering evidence from survivors at the hospital.

Also, the interlocking rack barriers that kept spectators from interfering with the marathon proved to be major obstacles for first responders. The report recommends the city look into alternative crowd control techniques that could be more easily disassembled in an emergency situation.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 3

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. With sanctions lifted, is Iran on its way to becoming a Shiite counterweight to Saudi Arabia?

By Bobby Ghosh in Quartz

2. The al-Shabab attack on a college in Kenya is part of a dangerous terrorist trend of targeting schools in Africa.

By David A. Graham in the Atlantic

3. Finally, big data we can use: Precision traffic modeling lets cities program stoplights to reduce delays and carbon emissions.

By David L. Chandler in MIT News

4. You are the first line of defense against identity theft, and you’re doing a terrible job.

By Stewart Rogers in Venture Beat

5. Coding the next generation of mobile apps means planning for self-driving cars and much more.

By Peter Wayner in InfoWorld

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Terrorism

2 Women Arrested in New York for ISIS-Inspired Terror Plot

U.S. Marshals stand outside U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn during the arraignment on terrorism charges of two Queens women in New York City on April 2, 2015.
Victor J. Blue–Getty Images U.S. Marshals stand outside U.S. Federal Court in Brooklyn during the arraignment on terrorism charges of two Queens women in New York City on April 2, 2015.

Two women and self-declared “citizens of the Islamic State” were arrested Thursday in connection to a plot to detonate homemade bombs in the United States.

Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui, both of Queens, N.Y., were charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against “persons or property” in the United States, according to a news release from the Department of Justice. Velentzas and Siddiqui were arrested in the borough by undercover agents, the AP reports.

Since at least August of 2014, the two women have been researching and acquiring materials to make homemade explosive devices. Most recently, the investigation revealed that one of them had a propane tank and instructions from a jihadist website for how to turn the tank into a bomb.

Both women “expressed their support for violent jihad,” and Velentzas has referred to Osama bin Laden as one of her heroes, according to the news release.

“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. “As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland. We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home.”

The defendants’ initial appearances are scheduled for the afternoon of April 2. If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Read next: Meet the Americans Who Have Joined an Iraqi Militia to Fight ISIS

TIME Kenya

Christians Hunted Down as al-Shabab Kill 147 in Kenya

Students evacuated from Garissa University listen to an address by Interior Minister for Security Joseph Ole Nkaissery before they are transported to their home regions from a holding area on April 3, 2015.
Carl de Souza—AFP/Getty Images Students evacuated from Garissa University College listen to an address by Interior Minister for Security Joseph Ole Nkaissery before they are transported to their home regions from a holding area on April 3, 2015.

“If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot. With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die”

At least 147 people have been killed and 79 wounded in the Thursday’s attack on a Kenya university, according to the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre. The centre says security forces have rescued more than 500 students from the Garissa University College campus but fighting is still going on.

For the past two weeks intelligence agencies in both Uganda and Kenya have issued warnings of possible terrorist attacks by the Islamist group al-Shabaab. The alerts urged caution about going to venues popular with westerners in Kampala, and vigilance around major infrastructure projects or universities in Kenya. Those warnings bore fruit just before dawn on Thursday as masked militants stormed a university dormitory complex in the Kenyan town of Garissa, launching grenades and firing guns.

President Uhuru Kenyatta released a statement urging Kenyans to “stay calm as we resolve this matter,” and extended his condolences “to the families of those who have perished.” He begged Kenyans to “provide the authorities with any information they may have in connection with any threats to our security” while announcing that the government had commenced the “appropriate deployment” of security forces. Reports from Garissa show that Kenyan tanks are heading to the sealed off university area, and that the militants have gathered on the roof, preparing for a violent showdown even as hostages huddle inside.

Earlier on Thursday, student Collins Wetangula told the Associated Press that when the militants stormed his dorm, he could hear them demanding if residents were Muslim or Christian. “If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot. With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”

“All I could hear were footsteps and gunshots nobody was screaming because they thought this would lead the gunmen to know where they are,” he said. “The gunmen were saying sisi ni al-Shabab (Swaihi for we are al-Shabaab).”

Al-Shabaab, which means “the Youth,” got its start in Somalia as the militant youth wing of an Islamist government that was defeated in 2006. With fighters numbering around 8,000, including several foreign recruits, it soon regained territory in southern Somalia. Al-Shabaab even held the capital, Mogadishu, until a U.N. backed national government forced it out in 2011 with the help of African Union forces. Reeling from a loss of terrain and resources, the group started launching raids and kidnappings across the border in Kenya in search of income. Kenya responded by sending troops, which engendered more retaliatory attacks. In 2012, al-Shabaab pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, and the effectiveness of its attacks increased as a result.

Al Shabaab, which brutally enforces a strict interpretation of fundamentalist Islam, still controls large swaths in the rural south of Somalia where it promises security in exchange for protection from the lawlessness that has afflicted the country for more than two decades. But as African Union forces and U.N. peacekeepers squeeze al-Shabaab from territory it once claimed, the group has lashed out with increasingly sophisticated terror attacks. Neighbors Uganda and Kenya, whose governments contribute troops to the U.N. and African Union military missions in Somalia, have borne the brunt of their anger. The Garissa raid is but the latest in a string of devastating terror attacks that have rocked Kenya since the 2013 assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, which killed 67. Uganda, too, has been targeted: on Tuesday suspected al-Shabaab gunmen on a motorbike shot and killed the Ugandan prosecutor presiding over the trial of 13 men implicated in a 2010 twin suicide bombing claimed by al-Shabaab. After each major attack claimed by the group, a spokesman invariably states that the assaults are revenge for that country’s military adventures in Somalia. The Garissa attacks are unlikely to be any different.

TIME Kenya

Gunmen Hold Christian Hostages After Killing 15 in University Attack

Students of the Garissa University College take shelter in a vehicle after fleeing from an attack by gunmen in Garissa, Kenya, April 2, 2015.
AP Students of the Garissa University College take shelter in a vehicle after fleeing from an attack by gunmen in Garissa, Kenya, April 2, 2015.

Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab believed to be responsible

With a spray of gunfire, masked gunmen stormed a university campus in Northern Kenya early Thursday morning, launching a round of grenades as they battled with campus guards and security forces for several hours. At least 15 have been killed, including two police officers, and police believe that several students are being held hostage in a building on the Garissa University College campus, say local media reports. According to the Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre, at least 65 are being treated in Garissa hospital.

Students that had been evacuated from three of the four dormitories — some still in pajamas, others only partially dressed — gathered to watch as security forces battled the militants cornered in the remaining building.

In a statement sent to the BBC, a spokesman for the Somalia-based al Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming that “dozens” had been killed. The attack started around 5 AM, as students were preparing for dawn prayers. Some twitter reports said that the militants attempted to separate the Muslims from the Christians. Ali Mohamud Rage, the al Shabaab spokesman, said in his statement that some Muslims had been released.

The commando-style raid has become a signature move for the al-Qaeda-linked militant group, which rose to international prominence in the wake of its 2013 attack on Nairobi’s upscale Westgate shopping mall, which killed 67. Al-Shabab has been battling to implement its strict interpretation of Islamic law in Somalia since 2006, and has repeatedly vowed to punish Kenya for sending peacekeeping troops into Somalia. Though there are some reports of a faction within the militant group that supports the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, its leadership has stayed loyal to al Qaeda.

Over the past week intelligence and security agencies in both Uganda and Kenya have warned of a possible al-Shabaab attack; on March 25 the University of Nairobi security department warned of a possible attack on major infrastructure projects or a Kenyan university in an internal memo seen by the BBC:

It is not yet clear if the attack will have any impact on the recently announced visit of U.S. President Barack Obama, who was due to attend a global entrepreneur’s summit in the capital, Nairobi, in July.

The United Kingdom’s foreign office immediately updated its Kenya travel advisories, warning against non-essential travel to the port city of Mombasa as well as three resort towns on the coast popular with holidaymakers. The warning is likely to be the death knell for the coast’s already suffering tourism sector, which had yet to recover from a string of terror attacks over the past three years that targeted the white-sand and blue sea paradise of Kenya’s northern beaches. Stringent American travel advisories had previously forbidden U.S. diplomatic personnel from going to the coast without clearances, and warned against tourism. Local tourism industry representatives complained that the warnings caused a major loss of jobs in an area with little economic alternatives, and may in fact result in encouraging more youth to join local militant groups or even al Shabaab, which is based in neighboring Somalia but has made significant inroads in Kenya.

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