U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Army soldier indicted for disclosing bomb-making techniques mentioned news media as targets

Incident Details


CNN’s New York headquarters, housed in the Time Warner building in Manhattan, was reported to be a target of a U.S. Army soldier who was indicted for distributing information about explosives.

— FILE/REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
September 21, 2019

A U.S. Army soldier stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, was arrested on Sept. 21, 2019, on allegations that he distributed information online about making explosives and discussed attacking multiple targets, including a local news station and a major American news network.

According to the criminal complaint, Jarrett William Smith, 24, engaged in conversations on multiple platforms about his desire to join a violent far-right paramilitary group in Ukraine, about killing members of the anti-fascist group known as antifa and about techniques for building bombs and other explosives.

In an Aug. 19 conversation in an online chat group, Smith told a confidential FBI source about his plans for domestic terrorism, including killing members of antifa and destroying nearby cell towers or a local news station. In a conversation with the confidential source a few days later, Smith gave the headquarters of a major American news network as a potential target, describing how a car bomb could be used.

While the network was not named in the affidavit, two unnamed sources told CNN that it was the CNN headquarters in New York that was targeted.

In the criminal complaint, FBI Special Agent Brandon LaMar wrote, “[Smith] admitted that he provides this information even to individuals who tell him they intend to use the information to cause harm to others.” According to LaMar, Smith said he does so to cause “chaos.”

Smith was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 25, and charged with two counts of distributing explosives information and a third alleging he sent interstate threats about setting the home of an antifa member on fire.

Smith pleaded not guilty to the charges during a hearing on Sept. 26, The Associated Press reported, and a federal magistrate ordered him detained until his trial. He faces 45 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, or both if convicted on all three counts, according to the indictment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].