- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A man accused of aiding a foiled plot to bomb a Kansas military post on behalf of the Islamic State group pleaded guilty to conspiracy on Monday, admitting that he loaned a friend money to store the explosives that he intended to use in the attack.

Alexander E. Blair, 29, could get up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced Aug. 22. He will remain free until then.

According to prosecutors, Blair lent John T. Booker $100 to pay for storage of a bomb that Booker planned to detonate in April 2015 outside of the Fort Riley military post, which is about 60 miles west of Topeka. Booker planned the IS-inspired attack with two contacts who were actually confidential FBI informants, and when he tried arming the bomb, which was fake, FBI agents arrested him.

Prosecutors say Blair and Booker met at a Topeka mosque in January 2015 and that they shared similar views about waging jihad against the U.S. military.

During the hearing, Blair conceded that he believed Booker was working on behalf of the Islamic State and meant to kill as many soldiers as possible.

After Booker’s arrest, FBI agents interviewed Blair and he told them he had refused to participate in the bombing, according to court documents detailing the plea.

“He wanted me to go with him. I told him no. I didn’t want to join the Jihad,” he told agents, according to the documents.

Blair said he didn’t tell the authorities about the plot because he believed that he was already under law enforcement surveillance.

“I thought I was being followed so I figured you guys would know something of it,” Blair told the agents.

Blair has Williams syndrome, a genetic condition that can lead to social phobia and isolation in adulthood, and during the hearing, U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree asked Blair if it would keep him from understanding his decision to plead guilty. Blair said he understood what he was doing. His lawyer, Christopher Joseph, said the condition could be relevant during sentencing.

Booker, 21, pleaded guilty in February to one count each of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to destroy government property with an explosive, according to court documents. He hasn’t been sentenced yet, but he agreed in his plea deal to serve 30 years in prison.


Follow Melissa Hellmann on Twitter at https://twitter.com/M_Hellmann

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