Haunting similarities between thwarted Kansas terror attack and Oklahoma City bombing

By Brett Gillin

Earlier this week, two men were arrested after authorities uncovered a terrorist bomb plot against a military base in Kansas. John T. Booker Jr., 20, stands accused of planning a suicide attack in order to help further the ISIS cause. Allegedly he was planning on striking Fort Riley and aiming to kill as many soldiers as possible. A second man, Alexander E. Blair, 28, has also been arrested and charged with failing to report a felony after authorities discovered that he knew of the plot but did nothing to report it to authorities.

The arrest is clearly a triumph of U.S. Intelligence efforts and their ability to uncover plots such as this and stop them before they kill innocent people, but an interesting line can be drawn between this most recent plot and one of the most deadly attacks on American soil ever: The Oklahoma City Bombing.

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols succeeded in their terror attack, killing 168 people by detonating a bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. Aside from the terror attacks that took place on 9/11 in New York, these are the most extensive and costliest (in terms of both lives and property damage) instances of terrorism to take place on U.S. soil.

While it’s hard to say what kind of damage the attacks planned by Booker may have caused, drawing similarities to the horrors of that April day in 1995 are easier than many people would like. First, just taking the timing into account, the Oklahoma City Bombing and the planned attack would have taken place almost exactly 20 years apart.

Sure, that’s not exactly “Twilight Zone” level coincidences yet, but consider this: Timothy McVeigh was an Army veteran, who served in the Gulf War. Booker wanted to be an Army veteran, even being recruited to the Army before being denied when authorities discovered the following post on his Facebook page, according to ABC News:

“Getting ready to be killed in jihad is a HUGE adrenaline rush! I am so nervous. NOT because I’m scared to die but I am eager to meet my lord.”

Timothy McVeigh was also stationed at Fort Riley, which just so happens to be the exact place Booker was planning his attack. Still, we can’t blame you if you’re not getting the chills quite yet… however, it gets a bit stranger.

When McVeigh was building the bomb for his terrorist attack, he rented a truck from Ryder in Junction City Kansas. Booker regularly met with undercover FBI agents in a van, where they’d built a fake bomb in, you guessed it: Junction City, Kansas.

When it comes to their motivations, they weren’t very far off either. McVeigh planned his attack on the second anniversary of the Waco incident, where U.S. Government forces sieged a compound belonging to a radical religious group. McVeigh also cited the Ruby Ridge incident, where U.S. Marshals and a fringe group (with apocalyptic religious ideologies) clashed, as a motive for his attacks against the U.S. government.  While McVeigh never explicitly cited the religious aspects of the incidents (instead focusing on the federal involvement used against the citizens) the religious undertone to his two cited motivations cannot be denied.

Booker, on the other hand, told FBI informants that he planned an ISIS-inspired terror attack, hoping to wage jihad and provide “material support to the Islamic State,” according to KCTV.

Thankfully, the similarities did not extend to the outcome. While McVeigh’s attack was completed, Booker’s was thwarted before it could come to fruition. Now we wait to see if their sentences have any similarities.


  • Brett Gillin is a journalist and fiction writer based in South Florida. Many of his friends and family members have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, as Police Officers, and first responders. Gillin is currently working on several screenplays, and his writings have been published in numerous national and international publications and websites.

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