UPDATE 9:40 a.m.: Pronews 7 has learned the suspect from the terror plot has made his inital appearance in Federal Court.
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - A college student from Saudi Arabia charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction has made an initial appearance at a court in Texas.Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari appeared in the U.S. Federal Court in Lubbock on Friday. He has retained counsel Rod Hobson.
Judge Nancy Koenig asked the 20-year-old if he understands the charges against him and ordered him to remain in custody until an April 11 detention hearing.
Koenig said Aldawsari faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted. The Justice Department says Aldawsari bought explosive chemicals online and planned to blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.
Aldawsari is legally in the U.S. on a student visa.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
UPDATE 5:30: We spoke with two professors at West Texas A&M University to get their take on Thursday's breaking news out of Lubbock concerning terrorism.
"In between, these things occur so rarely that we are able to forget them and put them out of sight, out of mind. But the reality is, we do still have to remind ourselves that this is a struggle that likely will not be resolved in our lifetimes," noted history professor, Dr. Bryan Vazzini.
Syed Anwar added, "It is our duty as citizens to report and cooperate with authorities, and what happened in Lubbock is I think we totally condemn this kind of activity."
UPDATE 10:20: A Lubbock resident and a citizen of Saudi Arabia is in FBI custody on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari allegedly purchased chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device (IED) and his research of potential U.S. Targets.
Aldawsari, was arrested late Wednesday evening. The arrest and the criminal complaint, which was unsealed in the Northern District of Texas , were announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, James T. Jacks, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas; and Robert E. Casey Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Dallas Field Division.
Aldawsari is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock at 9:00 a.m. on Friday morning. He was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at the South Plains College near Lubbock. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
According to the affidavit filed, Aldawsari has been researching online how to construct an IED using several chemicals as ingredients. He also acquired or took a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct an IED and he has conducted online research of several potential U.S. Targets, the affidavit alleges. In addition, he has allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.
"As alleged in the complaint, Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States. Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further," said Assistant Attorney General Kris. "This case serves as another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad."
The affidavit also alleges that on February 1, a chemical supplier reported to the FBI a suspicious attempted purchase of concentrated phenol by a man identifying himself as Khallid Aldawsari. The affidavit says that, phenol is a toxic chemical with legitimate uses, but can also be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as T.N.P., or picric acid. The affidavit alleges that other ingredients typically used with phenol to make picric acid, or T.N.P., are concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids.
Aldawsari allegedly attempted to have the phenol order shipped to a freight company so it could be held for him there, but the freight company returned the order to the supplier and called the police. He later, falsely told the supplier he was associated with a university and wanted the phenol for "off campus, personal research." Frustrated by questions being asked over his order of phenol, Aldawsari cancelled his order and later e-mailed himself instruction for producing phenol The affidavit alleges that in December 2010, he successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids.
Legally authorized electronic surveillance revealed that Aldawsari used various e-mail accounts in researching explosives and targets, and often sent e-mails to himself as part of this process.
For instance, on February 11, he allegedly e-mailed himself a recipe for picric acid, which the e-mail describes as a "military explosive." He also is alleged to have sent himself an e-mail back in October of last year, that contained information on the material required for Nitro Urea, how to prepare it, and the advantages of using it. In December last year, and January of this year he also allegedly purchased many other items, including a gas mask, a Hazmat suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers and flasks, wiring, a stun gun, clocks and a battery tester.
He is said to have also e-mailed himself instruction on how to convert a cellular phone into a remote detonator an how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using items available in every home. One e-mail allegedly contained a message stating that "one operation in the land of infidels is equal to ten operations against occupying forces in the land of the Muslims."
Searches of Aldawsari's home revealed that the concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids; the beakers and flasks; wiring; Hazmat suit; and clocks were present in his apartment. This was found during two legal authorized searches conducted by the FBI this month.
FBI agents also found a notebook in his home that appeared to be a diary or journal. According to the affidavit, excerpts from the journal indicate that Aldawsari had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years.
One entry describes how he sought and obtained a particular scholarship because it allowed him to come directly to the U.S. and helped him financially, which he said, "will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad." The entry continues, "And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad."
He also wrote about how he was close to reaching his goal and near to getting weapons to use against the infidels and their helpers. He also listed a "synopsis of important steps" that included obtaining a forged U.S. birth certificate, renting a car, using different driver's licenses for each car rented, putting bombs in cars and taking them to different places during rush hour, and leaving the city for a safe place.
Aldawsari also conducted research on various targets and e-mailed himself information on the locations and people, according to the affidavit. One of those documents, contained the subject line listed as "targets," and allegedly contained the names and home addresses of three American citizens, who had previously served in the U.S. military and had been stationed for a time at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
In another e-mail titled "nice targets01", he allegedly sent himself the names of 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California. In yet another e-mail he listed two categories of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. On February 6, he is said to have sent himself another e-mail titled "Tyrant's House," in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush.
The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari conducted research that could indicate his consideration of the use of infant dolls to conceal explosives and possible targeting of a nightclub with an explosive concealed in a backpack.
Aldawsari also created a blog in which he posted extremist messages.In one such posting, he expressed dissatisfaction with current condition of Muslims and vowed jihad and martyrdom.
"You who created mankind|.grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path," he wrote.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the FBI's Dallas Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Lubbock Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Baker and Denise Williams from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas, and Trial Attorney David Cora from the Counter terrorism Section of the Justice Department's National Security Division.
Aldawsari is charged with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device and his research into possible targets inside the United States. According to court documents, Aldawsari has been using the internet, researching how to build an IED using several chemicals as ingredients. The documents also said he has acquired or taken a substantial step toward getting most of those ingredients along with the equipment necessary to make the explosive device.
The report states that Aldawsari was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College . Aldawsari is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock Friday morning. In addition, he has allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal. He faces life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 fine if convicted.