Columbia Man Indicted For Trying To Help Terrorists

Boone County

A Columbia, Missouri man faces federal charges for his alleged role in making preparations to launch a terrorist attack in Kansas City, Missouri.

Hester, who had received a general discharge from the Army in 2013, allegedly came to the attention of investigators in September through a series of social media posts in which he "expressed his animus towards the US, and suggested an adherence to radical Islamic ideology and a propensity for violence". After his release, Hester continued to make plans with the undercover agents to carry out the attack, officials said.

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 allegedly replied during discussions that he was "happy to be part" of the planned terror attack, and that it was "going to be a good day for Muslims worldwide".

Hester served less than a year in the Army before his discharge in 2013, and has two small children with a third on the way, the Kansas City Star reported.

Pending a detention hearing scheduled on Friday, the judge ordered that Hester remain in federal custody.

Hester made his initial court appearance Tuesday in Missouri. The Department of Justice released a statement saying Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were alerted to Hester's social media posts.

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.

Even while his whereabouts were being electronically monitored by state authorities, according to court documents, Hester texted the agent and used an encrypted messaging application in which he once expressed his belief that the US government should be "overthrown".

He was arrested Friday after meeting with another undercover agent where Hester allegedly brought two boxes of roofing nails.

That contact began shortly after Hester reportedly had been released from jail after his arrest for a domestic disturbance in Columbia during which he was armed with a 9 mm handgun.

Officials said undercover agents arrested Hester after setting up a meeting in which Hester was to provide roofing nails created to be put inside pipe bombs that would "cut peoples' heads off", as an undercover agent told him. The documents quote Hester as responding: "I'm just ready to help". He also was shown weapons and was told several backpacks containing explosives would be placed in different locations in Kansas City. Hester again confirmed that he was "down", the affidavit says, and that he understood they had to "lay low" and act in a manner to avoid detection.

Prosecutors filed notice Tuesday that they would oppose bond for Hester.

No lawyer is listed for Hester in court records.



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