A 20-year-old Saudi studying at a Lubbock, Texas college has been arrested and charged with trying to build weapons of mass destruction. Agents found lists of possible targets inside Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari's home, including the address of former President George W. Bush.
Bush's address was included in an email Aldawsari sent himself with the subject line "Tyrant's House."
Other "NICE TARGETS" he wrote down included the homes of three former soldiers who once were stationed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and utilities. Just before his arrest Wednesday, Aldawsari searched whether Dallas-area nightclubs allowed people to bring in backpacks.
Aldawsari came to the United States to study English and to pursue a chemical engineering degree at Texas Tech University, according to an FBI affidavit. However, poor grades and his extracurricular explosives activities led him to transfer to South Plains College's Reese Technology Center in Lubbock. Aldawsari's university classes and living expenses were funded by a Saudi-based industrial corporation.
Aldawsari tried to buy concentrated phenol, a toxic chemical used to construct the explosive T.N.P., the affidavit said. He tried to have chemical shipped to a freight company, which returned the package and alerted police on Feb. 1. Aldawsari claimed the chemical was for "off-campus, personal research," and managed to acquire concentrated acids for the same purposes in December.
Electronic surveillance of Aldawsari indicated that as part of his plot, he used multiple email accounts to email himself information about explosives and targets. One Feb. 11 email described preparation of a necessary acid as part of a "military explosive," while others discussed how to convert a cellular phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using items available in every home.
In searches of his home, FBI agents found a journal indicating Aldawsari's desire to carry out an attack. He wrote that he sought 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."
Aldawsari also wrote on extremist sites, expressing his dissatisfaction with the conditions of Muslims and vowing to die in a terrorist attack. "You who created mankind….grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path," he wrote.
"We are confident that we have eliminated the alleged threat by Aldawsari," said U.S. Attorney James Jacks. "Yesterday's 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."