Army soldier Jarrett Smith pleaded not guilty during a hearing Thursday to charges related to distributing bomb-making information and a recipe for making napalm, as well as planning to enter a home and set it on fire.
Smith, who allegedly discussed bomb-making techniques and suggested targeting a news network that sources say is CNN, faces two counts of distributing explosives information and one count of threatening interstate communication, according to a federal indictment filed Wednesday.
During the hearing, a government prosecutor asked for Smith, 24, to be held in detention, saying he is a danger to the community and a flight risk.
Kansas federal Judge Angel Mitchell granted the government’s motion pending trial, saying that “the risk presented here is substantial.”
Assistant US Attorney Tony Mattivi described the allegations against Smith, saying that the soldier had planned to travel to Ukraine and that, as an active duty member of an Army infantry unit, he is trained in combat.
Mattivi said that Smith had contact and communication with a member of a right wing group and that the two had a face-to-face meeting in El Paso, Texas.
The government further alleges that Smith spoke about killing “far left members” of Antifa and destroying cellphone towers as part of his plan. He also described a “very specific plan” for overthrowing the government which he believed started with attacking the media, according to Mattivi.
Mattivi said that on the day of his arrest, Smith admitted that he provided information to others who intended to use it to harm others. Smith is alleged to have discussed with others how to use “commonly available household items” to build devices.
Mattivi said that Smith had discussed building a “Middle-East style” type of bomb that can destroy a military type of vehicle, shared specific instructions on how to construct a detonator, and described a recipe for a cheap and easy gas grenade.
Mattivi said that Smith, who had online conversations with an undercover FBI agent, admitted to agents that he provided the napalm recipe to people he knew may use it to harm others.
Smith’s court-appointed defense attorney Richard Federico argued that the counts against his client do not count as crimes of violence.
“They pulled his worst behavior online and made a federal case over it,” Federico said, adding this has been a “huge wake-up call” for Smith.
Federico argued that Smith has no prior criminal offenses and cooperated with the FBI, citing those as two of the reasons he should be released pending trial. He said Smith would accept electronic monitoring and any other conditions the judge would impose.
Federico also said that there is nothing illegal about joining forces overseas and that doesn’t show that he is a danger to the community that he lives in.
Federico called Smith a “chatroom troll” and said Smith gathers his social network online and in chat rooms, adding that he doesn’t have many other friends. Smith was only “reposting what anybody else can find online.”
“Is anyone who can find all of this (information) on Google a danger to the community?” Federico asked, additionally calling his client “gullible” and saying that he took the bait from undercover agents.
In announcing her decision, Judge Mitchell said that releasing Smith to the Army would put the “Fort Riley community” at risk if he returns. She also acknowledged he has no ties to Kansas since he was only recently transferred to Fort Riley and is originally from South Carolina.
Smith appeared at the hearing on Thursday in a yellow jumpsuit with very short, reddish hair. He was brought in wearing handcuffs that were taken off during hearing.
A status hearing is scheduled for November 4 in federal court in Topeka, Kansas.