Defense attorneys for a Saudi Arabian student arrested in February for plotting attacks against dams, nuclear plants, and the Dallas residence of former President George W. Bush will argue he is not guilty by reason of insanity.
In a motion filed Monday, Khalid Aldawsari's defense team claimed their client "appears to be suffering from a mental disease or defect or other mental condition" that leaves him unable to understand the case and unable to help in his own defense.
Federal agents searched Aldawsari's residence in February with a warrant filed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and found bomb-making materials, including concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids, glass beakers and flasks, wiring, clocks, and a Hazmat suit.
Agents also found a journal showing that Aldawsari had been planning a terrorist attack in the United States for years. According to one entry, Aldawsari acquired a scholarship from a Saudi corporation to enable him to come to the United States and plan jihad.
The scholarship "will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad, God willing," he wrote. "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."
A search of Aldawsari's computer showed that he researched potential targets for attack. Agents, for example, found an e-mail with a subject line saying "Targets," containing names and contact details for three U.S. military personnel who had served at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Another e-mails titled "NICE TARGETS 01" listed the names of 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California. Aldawsari also e-mailed himself a document titled "Tyrant's House" that listed former President George W. Bush's Dallas address.
His trial is scheduled to begin in January.
In an Oct. 25 statement that was filed with the court Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder cited national security concerns for barring FISA-related evidence from being disclosed publically.
"I hereby claim that it would harm the national security of the United States to disclose publically or hold an adversarial hearing with respect to the FISA materials," Holder wrote. "The FISA materials contain sensitive and classified information concerning United States sources and methods and other information related to efforts of the United States to conduct counterterrorism investigations," he added.
Aldawsari's lawyers have questioned the legality of the FISA-related evidence and have sought to suppress such evidence from being used at his trial.