LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - FBI agents arrested a Saudi Arabian South Plains College student living in Lubbock, TX, on a charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction Wednesday.
Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a citizen of Saudi Arabia and resident of Lubbock, was arrested in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make a military explosives and his research of potential U.S. targets including former President George W. Bush.
According to an affidavit, Aldawsari researched various targets and emailed himself information on locations and people, including the names and 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, 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California, hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants, and a nightclub.
On Feb. 6, 2011, the affidavit alleges, Aldawsari sent himself an email titled "Tyrant's House," in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush.
Aldawsari came to the U.S. on a student visa in 2008 and after finishing an English as a second language requirement enrolled at Texas Tech University for chemical engineering. Six weeks ago he transferred to South Plains College.
According to an affidavit, Aldawsari had been researching how to construct powerful explosives using several chemicals as ingredients. He had also acquired or tried to acquire most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct the explosives like lab equipment, Haz mat suits, and wiring.
The affidavit alleges that on Feb. 1, 2011, a chemical supplier reported to the FBI a suspicious attempted purchase of concentrated phenol, a toxic chemical that can be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as TNP, or picric acid.
Aldawsari allegedly attempted to have the phenol order shipped to the Lubbock freight company Con-way, but the freight company returned the order to the supplier and called the police. Later, Aldawsari falsely told the supplier he was associated with Texas Tech and wanted the phenol for "off-campus, personal research." Frustrated by questions being asked over his phenol order, Aldawsari canceled his order and later emailed himself instructions for producing phenol. The affidavit alleges that in December 2010, he successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids, two other ingredients needed to produce bombs.
According to the affidavit, Aldawsari also emailed himself a recipe for picric acid, which the email describes as a "military explosive;" information on the material required for Nitro Urea, how to prepare it, and the advantages of using it; and instructions on how to convert a cellular phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using items available in every home.
One email allegedly contained a message stating that "one operation in the land of the infidels is equal to ten operations against occupying forces in the land of the Muslims."
Aldawsari allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal. "You who created mankind….grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path," he wrote.
"[Wednesday's] arrest demonstrates the need for and the importance of vigilance and the willingness of private individuals and companies to ask questions and contact the authorities when confronted with suspicious activities," said U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks. "Based upon reports from the public, Aldawsari's plot was uncovered and thwarted. We're confident we have neutralized the alleged threat posed by this defendant."
During a search of Aldawsari's home, FBI agents found a notebook at Aldawsari's residence 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 described how Aldawsari sought and obtained a particular scholarship because it allowed him to come directly to the United State 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."
Although Aldawsari's was using Lubbock as a staging ground for attacking U.S. locations and people, there were no specific threats listed in the Affidavit for the Lubbock area.
Aldawsari is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock at 9 a.m. Friday. 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.