Saudi National Arrested for Texas Plot
Posted: February 25, 2011
Update: On June 27, 2012, Aldawsari was convicted on charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
A Saudi national arrested in Texas for allegedly attempting to build and use a weapon of mass destruction described his plan to wage "jihad" and target Americans in blog postings and a personal journal, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, of Lubbock, allegedly used the internet to identify targets and to conduct research on how to build an improvised explosive device (IED) using chemical ingredients. He has been charged with attempting to use of a weapon of mass destruction.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, federal agents learned of Aldawsari's plot in February 2011 when a chemical supplier in North Carolina reported his suspicious attempt to purchase concentrated phenol. Agents were then able to trace Aldawsari's other online purchases of concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids, which are typically used to make an explosive known as TNP (trinitrophenol).
The FBI later found the chemicals at Aldawsari's residence along with a journal allegedly indicating that he was inspired by Osama Bin Laden and had been planning to commit a terrorist attack. In one journal entry described by the DOJ, Aldawsari described the financial scholarship he used to come to the U.S. as "tremendously" helpful "in providing me with the support I need for Jihad." The entry goes on to say, "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 described by the DOJ, Aldawsari listed a "synopsis of important steps" described as "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 for a safe place."
The affidavit alleges that Aldawsari sent himself emails with titles like "NICE TARGETS" in which he listed hydroelectric dams in California and Colorado and nuclear power plants. Other documents he sent to himself contained the names and home addresses of three members of the military that served in at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. An email titled "Tyrant's House" included the Dallas home address for former President George W. Bush.
Aldawsari allegedly created a blog called FromFarAway90, where he wrote in English and Arabic about college life in America, romance, his efforts to maintain his religious identity, and his perceptions of Americans, which included some positive impressions. Since March 2010, a handful of his posts have included extremist messages. On March 11, 2010, he wrote "grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me."
A month later, he wrote in Arabic, "Muslims can not enjoy a carefree life and peace when in front of them and behind them their lands and dignities are being desecrated with the help of the Arab traitors and other Zionist rulers inside the Muslim world…in the lands of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya [there can be] no peace without war and violence with steadfastness and determination to win…" His Facebook lists "STOP Israel's War Crimes in Gaza" as one of his interests.
Aldawsari, who was arrested by Federal agents in Lubbock on February 23, had been living in Texas and was enrolled at South Plains College. He previously attended Texas Tech University and studied at an English language center at Vanderbilt University. He arrived in the U.S. in 2008 on a student visa.
A similar plot in Dallas was foiled by law enforcement in September 2009. At that time, Jordanian national Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, who overstayed his student visa, was arrested for attempting to bomb a 60-story glass office tower in Dallas with a weapon of mass destruction. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison in October 2010.
Several other foreign nationals who have overstayed their student visa have been convicted on terror charges in the U.S., including Adnan Mizra, a Pakistani national who was convicted in Houston for conspiring to join the Taliban and fight against U.S. forces.
Aldawsari faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.