Jim Kouri
Saudi Jihadi nailed for attempted use of WMD in Texas
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By Jim Kouri
February 25, 2011

A 20-year old Saudi Arabian national and student-resident of Lubbock, Texas, was nabbed Wednesday night by U.S. law enforcement agents on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device (IED) and his surveillance and reconnaissance of potential targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.

The suspect, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock on Friday morning. Aldawsari, who legally resided in United States since 2008 on a student visa and is currently enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, an FBI source told the Law Enforcement Examiner.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Aldawsari has been researching online how to construct an IED using several chemicals as ingredients. He also acquired — or was close to acquiring — most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct an IED and he has conducted online research of several potential U.S. targets, the affidavit alleges. In addition, he has allegedly described his desire for violent Jihad and martyrdom in Internet blog postings and his personal journal.

"As alleged in the complaint, Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States. Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further," said Assistant Attorney General David Kris during a press conference.

"[This] 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. 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. Those reports resulted in the initiation of a complex and far-reaching investigation requiring almost around the clock work by hundreds of dedicated FBI agents, analysts, prosecutors and others," said U.S. Attorney James Jacks.

WMD and equipment

U.S. law enforcement officials allege that on February 1, 2011, a chemical supplier reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation a suspicious attempt to purchase concentrated phenol by a man identifying himself as Khalid Aldawsari. According to the supporting affidavit, phenol is a toxic chemical with legitimate uses, but can also be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as T.N.P., or picric acid. The affidavit alleges that other ingredients typically used with phenol to make picric acid, or T.N.P., are concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids.

Aldawsari allegedly attempted to have the phenol order shipped to a freight company so it could be held for him there, but the freight company returned the order to the supplier and called the police.

Aldawsari subsequently lied to the supplier that he was associated with a university and wanted the phenol for "off-campus, personal research." Frustrated by questions being asked over his phenol order, Aldawsari canceled his order and later e-mailed himself instructions for producing phenol.

However, in December 2010, he successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids, according to the prosecutors.

The affidavit also describes the authorized electronic surveillance that revealed Aldawsari used various e-mail accounts in researching explosives and targets, and often sent emails to himself as part of this process. On February 11, 2011, for instance, he allegedly e-mailed himself a recipe for picric acid, which the e-mail describes as a "military explosive."

Prior to that he allegedly sent himself an e-mail dated October 19, 2010 that contained information on the material required for Nitro Urea, how to prepare it, and the advantages of using it.

Law enforcement officials allege that Aldawsari e-mailed himself instructions on how to convert a cellular phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using common household items. One e-mail 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."

Between December 2010 and January 2011, Aldawsari allegedly purchased many other items, including a gas mask, a Hazmat suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers and flasks, wiring, a stun gun, clocks and a battery tester.

Armed with two search warrants, FBI investigators searched Aldawsari's apartment in February 2011 and discovered concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids; the beakers and flasks; wiring; Hazmat suit; and clocks.

FBI agents also 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 describes 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."

In another entry, Aldawsari allegedly wrote that he was close to reaching his goal and close to getting weapons to use against infidels and their helpers. He also listed a "synopsis of important steps" that included obtaining a forged U.S. birth certificate; renting a car; using different driver's licenses for each car rented; putting bombs in cars and taking them to different places during rush hour; and leaving the city to hide in a safe place.

Research on Potential Targets

An FBI official told the Law Enforcement Examiner that Aldawsari conducted reconnaissance operations of various targets and e-mailed himself information on these locations and people. One of the documents he sent himself, with the subject line listed as "Targets," allegedly contained the names and home 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.

In another e-mail titled "NICE TARGETS 01," Aldawsari allegedly sent himself the names of 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California. In another e-mail to himself, titled "NICE TARGETS," he listed two categories of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. On February 6, 2011, the affidavit alleges, Aldawsari sent himself an e-mail titled "Tyrant's House," in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush. The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari conducted research that could indicate his consideration of the use of infant dolls to conceal explosives and possible targeting of a nightclub with an explosive concealed in a backpack.

The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari created a blog in which he posted extremist messages. In one posting, he expressed dissatisfaction with current conditions of Muslims and vowed Jihad and martyrdom. "You who created mankind....grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make Jihad easy for me only in Your path," he wrote.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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