A federal grand jury in Lubbock, Texas, has indicted Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari on one charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. The indictment was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Lubbock in connection with an alleged plot by Aldawsari, a 20-year-old Saudi, to attack various U.S. targets including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush. He faces life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Aldawsari, who claimed to be in the United States to study English and pursue a chemical engineering degree, had his university classes and living expenses funded by a Saudi-based firm. An entry in a journal found in his apartment says Aldawsari chose the scholarship because it brought him to the United States and aided him financially, which "will help me tremendously with the support I need for Jihad."
The entry continued: "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."
Prosecutors say electronic surveillance and searches of his home showed that Aldawsari used to e-mail himself information about topics like how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle and how to turn a cell phone into a remote detonator.
Aldawsari was arrested Feb. 23. Court documents say that on Feb. 1, he attempted to purchase phenol, a toxic chemical used to build the explosive TNP. He tried to have it shipped to Con-Way Freight in Lubbock, which alerted authorities.
Carolina Biological Supply of Burlington, N.C., is also being praised for reporting Aldawsari's alleged attempt to use TNP to build produce a massive amount of explosives.
Prosecutors say Aldawsari scouted a range of possible targets including the Bush home (which he referred to as "Tyrant's House"), nuclear power facilities, and 12 reservoirs or dams located in California and Colorado. According to court documents, Aldawsari wrote in his journal about a plan to travel to New York, place bombs in rental cars, and detonate them at several locations during rush hour.
Other targets mentioned by Aldawsari were said to include the homes of three former American soldiers who had been stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Shortly before his arrest, Aldawsari allegedly tried to find out whether Dallas-area nightclubs allowed people to bring in backpacks.
Read the criminal complaint in the case here. Read the Justice Department press release here.