LUBBOCK, Texas — A college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Texas bought explosive chemicals online as part of a plan to hide bomb materials inside dolls and baby carriages to blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, the Justice Department said Thursday.
"After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for jihad," or holy war, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari wrote in his private journal, according to court documents.
Aldawsari, 20, wrote that he had been planning an attack in the United States for years, even before coming to the country on a scholarship. He said he was influenced by Osama bin Laden's speeches.
A chemical company, Carolina Biological Supply of Burlington, N.C., reported a suspicious $435 order by Aldawsari to the FBI on Feb. 1.
Separately, Con-way Freight, the shipping company, notified Lubbock police and the FBI the same day with similar suspicions because it appeared the order wasn't intended for commercial use. Within weeks, federal agents had traced Aldawsari's other online purchases, discovered extremist posts he had made on the Internet and secretly searched his off-campus apartment, computer and e-mail accounts and read his diary, according to court records.
TNP, the chemical explosive that Aldawsari was suspected of trying to make, has approximately the same destructive power as TNT. FBI bomb experts said the amounts in the Aldawsari case would have yielded almost 15 pounds of the explosive. That's about the same amount used per bomb in the London subway attacks that killed scores of people in July 2005.
Aldawsari, who was legally in the United States on a student visa, is expected to appear in federal court today. He was charged Thursday with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Aldawsari entered the United States in October 2008 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech University. He transferred this year to nearby South Plains College, where he was studying business. A Saudi industrial company, which was not identified in court documents, was paying his tuition and living expenses in the United States.
Terrorism sentence: College dropout and Muslim convert Zachary A. Chesser, 21, of Bristow, Va., who threatened the creators of the South Park cartoon series on the Internet under the name Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee and then tried to join an al-Qaida-linked terror group in Somalia, was sentenced in an Alexandria, Va., court Friday to 25 years in prison.