Developing story: New information emerges on accused terrorist

7 months 3 weeks 3 days ago Wednesday, February 22 2017 Feb 22, 2017 Wednesday, February 22, 2017 4:39:00 PM CST February 22, 2017 in News
By: Abby Breidenbach, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - The arrest of one Columbia man accused in a terrorist plot left members of the community in shock and disbelief that their neighbor could even attempt to provide materials for an act of terror.

Robert Hester was arrested at his Columbia home Friday in front of family and neighbors. Robert Shatlain said he does not believe the arrest was legitimate.

"I've told everybody. I ain't buying it," Shatlain said.

Shatlain and Hester's aunt both described him as an upbeat family man.

"If you would sit here the day that they came, the FBI and the police, and saw him and his children out here, you would be sitting here telling me 'that man is a terrorist? No way,'" Shatlain said.

The neighbor said Hester was private but not sneaky. Shatlain said Hester was open to talking about himself, including occasional talk of his religion. 

"I believe it was within the past year or two that Robert became Muslim," Shatlain said.

KOMU 8 News visited the Islamic Cultural Center of Central Missouri, where a congregation member and the council president said they have never seen Hester. 

Hester was a graduate of Douglass High School in 2009. His former teachers would not comment on him.

Hester's aunt said she wanted to share positive stories of the man, but later withdrew her remarks. She said Hester's lawyer would not allow her to comment.

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