Neighbors react to terrorist arrest - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Neighbors react to terrorist arrest

Lubbock, Texas (KCBD) - A college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Lubbock, Texas bought explosive chemicals online as part of a plan to hide bomb materials inside dolls and baby carriages to blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, the Justice Department said Thursday. "After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for jihad," or holy war, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari wrote in his private journal, according to court documents.

Aldawsari lived at The Centre at Overton Park just down the hall from Texas Tech student Landon Lepard. "My friends called and said hey there is a terrorist in your apartment and I said what? I found out that he lived down the hall and I saw that he was literally right around the corner," Lepard said.

Aldawsari lives in unit 2303 at The Centre where students say he kept a low profile.  Court documents show that on February 14th and 17th the FBI searched Aldawsari's apartment. They found chemicals like sulfuric and nitric acids, dismantled alarm clocks, and other tools for making explosives.

Lepard said he noticed more police around his apartment last week. "Over the weekend I saw a heavier police presence. We were here on Thursday and there were lots of sheriffs and deputies."

Mayor Tom Martin said the FBI and local officials have been following Aldawsari for weeks. "There was information that came over a period of weeks but it takes that long I assure you that he was not out of surveillance while they were gathering that information," Martin said.

Students say they often saw Aldawsari at the bus stop. "He was just a normal guy I guess,  sometimes he seemed a little weird," Tech student Bo Whitney said.

"He was kind of quiet, he always stood off by himself in the corner using his ipod or something. Somebody like that who is secluded makes you wonder like what's he doing on his own time, I guess as it turns out he's was making bombs," Whitney continued.

Landon Lepard says he still cant believe he was living down the hall from someone who had the intentions of committing a terrorist attack in the US.

"It's unbelievable and shocking you know, that this happened in Lubbock, much less in the same building," Lepard said.

"It's scary, I don't want that going on anywhere, much less where I lay my head at night, what if he messed up and blew up the whole building," Tech student Bo Whitney said.

 The 20-year-old Aldawsari wrote that he was planning an attack in the United States for years, even before coming to the U.S. on a scholarship. He said he was influenced by Osama bin Laden's speeches and that he bemoaned the plight of Muslims.

 One of the chemical companies, Carolina Biological Supply of Burlington, N.C., reported $435 in suspicious order by Aldawsari to the FBI on Feb. 1.

Separately, Con-way Freight, the shipping company, notified Lubbock police and the FBI the same day with similar suspicions because it appeared the order wasn't intended for commercial use. Within weeks, federal agents had traced his other online purchases, discovered extremist posts he made on the Internet and secretly searched his off-campus apartment, computer and e-mail accounts and read his diary, according to court records.

Aldawsari, who was legally in the U.S. on a student visa, is expected to appear in federal court on Friday. He was charged Thursday with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Aldawsari entered the U.S. in October 2008 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech University. He transferred this year to nearby South Plains College, where he was studying business. A Saudi industrial company, which was not identified in court documents, was paying his tuition and living expenses in the U.S.

 

Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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