Saudi student in Texas arrested on terrorism charges

LUBBOCK, Texas -- A Saudi Arabian student attending South Plains College purchased chemicals to build a bomb and was researching targets in the United States – including former President George W. Bush’s Dallas home – before his arrest Wednesday by federal authorities, according to a statement issued by the U.S. District Attorney’s office today.

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, was arrested late Wednesday by FBI agents on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He was set to appear Friday morning in federal court in Lubbock.

Aldawsari received a visa to study in the United States in 2008 and was described as a transfer student for the spring 2011 semester of the community college in Levelland, according to the statement. He had attended the college for six weeks, according to a statement from South Plains.

Aldawsari came to federal attention after a chemical supplier reported a suspicious attempted purchase of a concentrated phenol, a chemical with legitimate purposes that can be used to make explosives, in early February. Surveillance and searches on his apartment -- in a building behind U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer's district office and shared with a U.S. Army recruiting office -- revealed wiring, beakers, flasks, Hazmat suits and clocks, according to the statement.

Neighbors across the hall from his apartment recognized him from news reports, but Tech Food Science senior Sally Dierschke said they'd never really noticed him while he lived there.

"I'd just seen him in passing, but nothing ever spectacular or weird about him," Dierschke said.

"We've never met any of our neighbors," said Audra Kiesling, her roommate, a senior civil engineering major. 

"There's never anyone in the hallways here," Dierschke added.

Federal investigators also found several journal entries and email messages he sent to himself with instructions on how to build an improvised explosive device, according to the statement.

Additional emails with the subject “NICE TARGETS” he sent to himself described reservoirs and dams in Colorado and California, nuclear power plants, night clubs and the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, according to the statement.

Emails also contained the names and home addresses of three former U.S. military members who had been stationed for a time at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to the statement.

 

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