Man who was kicked out of Army arrested by FBI for attempted terrorist attack

Mugshot of Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr. from October 3, 2016. Hester has been charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. SOURCE: Boone County Sheriff

A Missouri veteran has been charged with attempting to aid what he thought would be an Islamic State-affiliated terror attack in Kansas City.

25-year-old Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr. was charged in federal court with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terror organization after he was caught in an FBI sting.

Hester was arrested last Friday after undercover FBI agents posing as Islamic State operatives gained enough evidence on the man, having met him several times to plan an attack in Kansas City on President’s Day.

Telling undercover agents that it was “going to be a good day for Muslims worldwide” and that it felt “good to help strike back at the true terrorist,” Hester collaborated with the agents to bomb several mass transit systems, purchasing much of the materials to do so in the process.

“First on social media, then during face-to-face meetings with an undercover FBI employee, this defendant repeatedly expressed his intent to engage in acts of violent jihad against the United States,” US Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tammy Dickinson wrote in a written statement. “He believed he was part of an ISIS-sponsored terrorist attack that would result in the deaths and injuries of many innocent victims.”

The married father of two children with one on the way, Hester was kept in-line by FBI agents posing as ISIS cell members, threatening his family if he committed any terror acts outside of what was planned.

According to the Kansas City Star, Hester was born in Missouri and joined the US Army in 2012, but was given a general discharge during Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for violating numerous army regulations.

“Recipients of general discharges usually have engaged in minor misconduct or have received nonjudicial punishment under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” an Army spokeswoman said.

Hester -also known as Ali Talib Muhammad- was initially contacted by an undercover FBI agent in October of last year after he had been released from jail for committing a domestic disturbance with a 9mm handgun.

Hester repeatedly spoke of punishing the United States and that he desired “global jihad.”

During his time with the FBI agents, Hester was exposed to the plot, which was reportedly going to cause ten times the casualties suffered at the Boston Marathon Bombings. He allegedly told the agents he was “down” to commit the acts of terror, offering more bomb supplies and ammunition as soon as his tax return came in.

Prosecutors filed a notice on Tuesday, saying they would oppose bond for Hester.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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