The FBI has arrested a 20-year-old Saudi student in Texas suspected of planning a terrorist attack using explosive chemicals and targeting the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.
Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a Saudi citizen attending college near Lubbock, Texas, was arrested late Wednesday and charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, according to media reports.
Federal authorities say Aldawsari's diary indicated that he had been plotting an attack for years and obtained a scholarship so he could come directly to the United State to carry out jihad.
However, the Dallas News quoted Special Agent Mark White, a spokesman for the Dallas FBI, as saying: "The federal complaint contains no allegations that he received direction from or was under the control of a foreign terrorist organization."
“We are confident that we have eliminated the alleged threat by Aldawsari,” White added.
Aldawsari is expected to appear in federal court in Lubbock on Friday morning. If convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to court records, Aldawsari had been researching online how to construct an improvised explosive device, or IED, using chemicals. He has also "acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment" needed for the bomb, including concentrated phenol.
Phenol can be used to make explosives. Aldawsari had successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids in December, authorities said.
Agents say he also allegedly purchased 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.
Authorities said Aldawsari described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.
— Freya Petersen