Defense attorneys are laying the groundwork to challenge the case against Khalid Aldawsari, Lubbock's nationally-known terror suspect. Aldawsari was arrested in February 2011 on a charge of Attempted Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction. He has been locked up ever since.
In the newest court filing on Wednesday, Aldawsari's defense lists their expert witnesses for trial, set for April 30. Among them is James T. Thurman, an expert in explosives and hazardous devices.
It is through the listing of Thurman's expertise that we learn the FBI did a test explosion as part of the Aldawsari case.
Court records say, "... on October 28, 2011, Mr. Thurman attended the test explosion conducted by the FBI Explosives Unit in Quantico, Virginia."
KCBD NewsChannel 11 and other media outlets are strictly forbidden from asking federal officials about this test explosion or any other aspect of the case because of a gag order imposed by U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings. The legality of this all-encompassing gag order is under review by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Wednesday's notice of experts by the defense also says, "Mr. Thurman will testify as to whether Mr. Aldawsari could have constructed a weapon of mass destruction that resulted in an explosion similar to the test explosion conducted by the FBI on October 28, 2011."
Also among the experts is a former FBI agent of 31 years, Danny Coulson.
In the records, Aldawsari's defense says, "Mr. Coulson will/can address several shortfalls and improper tactics, techniques, and procedures that were used by investigators and law enforcement in this case."
Court records say Coulson has counter-terrorism training from Delta Force and Seal Team Six. The records also say Coulson played a prominent role in the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Another expert for Aldawsari will be forensic chemist J. Graham Rankin.
Wednesday's court filing says "Rankin will/can testify that the Defendant did not have the necessary components to create an improvised explosive, which could be used in a weapon of mass destruction."
When Aldawsari was arrested, he was accused of collecting the material for a bomb in his Central Lubbock apartment. His list of proposed targets in the criminal complaint included the home of George W. Bush, nightclubs in Dallas, and hydro electric dams in other states.
If convicted, he faces any number of years or life in prison.
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