Crime

Kansas City terror attack suspect ordered held without bond

Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr.
Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr.

A Columbia man charged with plotting a terrorist attack in Kansas City was ordered held without bond during a federal court hearing Friday.

Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr., 25, allegedly plotted a terror attack with people he believed were with the Islamic State, but were actually undercover law enforcement officers.

Hester, a Missouri-born U.S. citizen who served briefly in the U.S. Army, appeared Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.

A judge granted a request by prosecutors to hold Hester without bond.

Hester’s attorney entered not guilty pleas on his behalf during the brief hearing.

His next court appearance was scheduled for March 21.

He is charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and attempting to assist in the use of a weapon of mass destruction.

According to previously filed court documents, Hester was approached last year by undercover FBI employees after he made social media posts expressing his dislike of the U.S. government and his support for the Islamic State.

During a series of meetings and online communications, Hester allegedly expressed a willingness to be part of an attack.

The FBI employee told him they were planning something 10 times bigger than the Boston Marathon bombings in which “a lot” of people would be killed.

When given an opportunity to back out of the plot, Hester allegedly told them he was “down” with going forward.

Among the help he provided was the purchase of items he thought would be used to make bombs, according to the allegations.

The undercover employees told Hester that the attacks would target buses, trains and Union Station and were planned for Feb. 20, Presidents Day, according to the court documents.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc

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