Lubbock, Texas (KCBD) - The Saudi college student who allegedly planned to bomb a series of U.S. targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Lubbock, Texas, on Friday.
Sally Dierschke and her roommate Audra Kiesling live directly in front of Khalid Aldawsari's apartment. "His demeanor was very kind of shutoff from everyone else and he seemed very much like he didn't want to talk to anybody from the few times I remember passing him in the hallway," Dierschke said.
"It didn't really hit me at first but after awhile I was like, ‘oh my gosh, there's someone that's making bombs across the hallway from me,'" Kiesling said.
The girls say they tried to be friendly and smile at Aldawsari in passing but never got much of a response. "I don't think he ever actually smiled back, he just always looked down from what I remember passing him in the hallway," Dierschke said.
Kiesling says it is hard to walk out her front door without thinking about the fact that Aldawsari was living just 3 feet away from her. "Just knowing that he lived across the hall and we never knew what was going on."
According to extensive court documents so much was going on behind the door of Apartment 2303. Just steps away from the girls, the FBI conducted secret searches of Aldawsari's apartment for weeks. They found materials used to make bombs and detailed journal entries of his plans to attack the US. Even though Aldawsari is in protective custody his Hyundai Sonata still sits in the parking lot at The Centre Apartments.
"I think I'm still dealing with the shock of it all and trying to wrap my mind around the fact that something like this is happening right outside my door," Dierschke said.
Even though the girls didn't interact with Aldawsari they think they may have heard him. "Occasionally we would hear loud noises, I think it was coming from across the hall like someone was banging on a wall or a door and it would wake me up in the night," Kiesling said.
Aldawsari went virtually unnoticed in the small Lubbock community but Dierschke and Kiesling are just glad he isn't living in front of their door anymore.
"I am just happy he has been caught, cause now he's not trying to make bombs across the hall I mean if one of those had gone off who knows what would have happened," Sally Dierschke said.
Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, will remain in custody until his formal detention hearing, set for March 11.
The student at Lubbock's South Plains College faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
In a statement, Aldawsari's lawyer blasted the "one sided and biased" coverage that he said made it difficult for his client to receive a fair trial in Lubbock, a northwestern Texas city of more than 200,000 people.
Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.