A Saudi man charged in Texas with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction may have a former top FBI official and a prominent academic known to work with radical Islamists in his corner.
Coulson, who helped supervise the FBI's Oklahoma City bombing investigation, will "address several shortfalls and improper tactics, techniques, and procedures that were used by investigators and law enforcement in this case," defense attorneys wrote in a notice to the court last week.
Though he appears on the defense expert witness list, Coulson told Politico that his testimony is not certain. "I do some defense work for different clients and was asked to consult on it by a law firm representing him," Coulson said. But he hasn't reviewed any evidence "has not yet formed an opinion about whether or not Aldawsari is guilty," Politico reported.
Aldawsari was arrested a year ago in Lubbock, Texas after a freight company contacted authorities about a shipment of concentrated phenol, a toxic chemical used to construct the explosive T.N.P. Subsequent surveillance showed that used multiple email accounts to send 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.
FBI agents later found a journal n Aldawsari's home indicating a desire to carry out an attack. "And now," one entry said, "after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad."
Former President George W. 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 area utilities and the homes of three former soldiers who once were stationed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
Defense attorneys say another former agent, James Thurman, observed an FBI test explosion in October and "will testify as to whether Mr. Aldawsari could have constructed a weapon of mass destruction that resulted in an explosion similar to the test explosion."
Esposito, who served as a defense expert in the Hamas-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development will analyze Aldawsari's online posts and private journal entries and how they may have been influenced by "cultural bias and isolation" as part of a planned defense based on free speech. He also will testify about the meaning of jihad and "Islam's affect (sic) on Mr. Aldawsari's cultural and political beliefs."
Aldawsari's trial is scheduled to begin April 30.