A Saudi Arabian citizen living in Lubbock, Texas has been sentenced to life in prison after being found with materials used to make a bomb, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday in an emailed alert.
Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, was “searching online for large targets such as dams and electrical plants,” the FBI said. “He also searched for ways to conceal explosives in baby dolls and carriages and even sought the Texas address of former President George W. Bush.”
The would-be bomber came to the United States legally in 2008 on a student visa, officials said.
“Aldawsari was radicalized before he ever came to the U.S.,” according to the FBI. “It appears he started planning this attack when he was a teenager and sought a scholarship to study specifically in America.
“Aldawsari wanted to take out a lot of people,” one official said. “It scares me to think what might have happened if we hadn’t stopped him.”
Federal authorities were tipped off when a business that sells one of the chemicals in making the bomb became suspicious of Aldawsari.
“The FBI depends on private industry and the general public to help fight terrorism,” the FBI said. “Weapons of mass destruction coordinators in each of the 56 FBI field offices, along with other agents, regularly meet with representatives from industry and academic institutions, public health officials, local law enforcement, and first responders to raise awareness about threats to our national security.
“These efforts are known as setting tripwires, and the intent is to establish an early-warning network where those closest to an emerging situation — such as the Lubbock shipping company in the Aldawsari case — are aware of potential risks and are prepared to inform the FBI when suspicions are raised.”
The North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force learned that although Aldawsari had once been a chemical engineering student at Texas Tech, he was no longer enrolled there and had no affiliation with the university.
“He was trying to pass himself off as a Texas Tech student doing research on cleaning products,” said Special Agent Mike Orndorff, who worked the investigation. “Those credentials, if legitimate, would have allowed him to buy the phenol.”
Most alarming was that Aldawsari had already purchased the two other chemicals needed to make his bomb, along with test tubes, beakers, and protective gear. Through covert operations, investigators learned he had disassembled clocks and cell phones and stripped the wires off Christmas lights in apparent attempts to fashion timers and initiating devices.
Surveillance teams monitored Aldawsari around the clock.
After agents were certain that Aldawsari was working alone, he was arrested and charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Free Livingston Headlines Examiner email alerts
Livingston Headlines Examiner RSS feed
Join me on Twitter
Join me on Facebook
Join me on Linked In