Feds seek to stifle defense arguments in Lubbock terror case
Khalid Aldawsari, image from Lubbock County S.O.
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
Federal prosecutors are trying to limit what the defense team for Khalid Aldawsari can say when the case goes to trial in late April. Aldawsari was arrested more than one year ago on a charge of Attempted Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction.
He is accused of collecting the materials to make a bomb, with proposed targets nationwide. Aldawsari, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, was in Lubbock as a college student. According to court records, his writings at the time included a desire for jihad.
Prosecutors this week have filed three documents called "motion in limine." The first one seeks to stifle a defense that has been mentioned by Aldawsari's attorneys in previous court records. Prosecutors write, "The Government believes that Aldawsari might argue that it was impossible for him to complete the crime of use of weapon of mass destruction because he did not yet have the third, and final, ingredient needed."
Prosecutors say that the charge is "attempted" therefore Aldawsari should not be able to tell a jury that he lacked the ingredients for a bomb.
The second motion in limine is asking permission for prosecutors to introduce evidence of two test explosions conducted by the FBI. It says in part, "Aldawsari had two of the three precursor chemicals necessary to manufacture the WMD [weapon of mass destruction]."
The court records say the FBI detonated a 7-pound bomb inside a passenger car, and a 15-pound bomb inside a second passenger car to replicate what Aldawsari might have been able to do.
"... The government intends to use as evidence twelve still photographs and two short videos, each of less than one minute duration."
The second motion also says, "The demonstration replicates the explosions which would have resulted from Aldawsari following the instructions he possessed both in written and video format."
"The explosive force propelled large portions of the vehicles 165 feet and 168 feet, respectively, from the explosion sites."
Prosecutors say the explosion video is not being introduced to cause an emotional reaction by a jury, but rather to "paint a picture" of what Aldawsari intended.
The third motion in limine seeks to prevent the defense from asking witnesses any questions about a hidden camera FBI agents secretly placed into Aldawsari's Central Lubbock apartment.
Prosecutors say that they have an informer's privilege that "protects the identity of government informants and allows the government to withhold from disclosure the identity of persons who furnish information." Therefore, they argue, the defense is not entitled to ask any witness about the legality of the hidden camera, the technical specifications of the hidden camera, or the method of installation into Aldawsari's apartment.
The third motion also seems to indicate there was a hidden recording device in the hallway outside Aldawsari's apartment. If prosecutors' requests are granted the defense will not be allowed to ask about that either.
While prosecutors assert an informer's privilege, the new court documents point out the two original informants in the case more clearly than ever. Court documents are very clear that Con-Way Freight in Lubbock and Carolina Biological Supply in North Carolina contacted authorities at roughly the same time when they discovered what they thought was a suspicious shipment of chemicals to Aldawsari.
Prosecutors say they are also trying to "... prevent disclosure of law enforcement techniques and procedures."
The defense has not yet responded, nor has the judge made a ruling.