WASHINGTON: A Saudi man has been arrested for allegedly buying chemicals and equipment to make a bomb, possibly targeting the Dallas home of former president George W. Bush, officials said Thursday.
Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a Saudi national who came to Texas on a student visa in 2008, was arrested late Wednesday and faces charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, the Department of Justice said.
According to the FBI, Aldawsari wrote himself an email entitled "NICE TARGETS," and then listed two types of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. In another email titled "Tyrant's House," he listed the address of Bush's Dallas, Texas home.
The authorities' affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari researched using dolls to hide explosives and concealing them in a backpack to target a nightclub.
Prosecutors said Aldawsari came specifically for terror attacks and posted extremist messages on a blog, vowing jihad.
"You who created mankind... grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path," he wrote.
In another, he said: "one operation in the land of the infidels is equal to ten operations against occupying forces in the land of the Muslims."
Earlier this month, a chemical supplier reported his suspicions about Aldawsari to the FBI, after the man tried to buy large amounts of phenol, which can be used to make explosives. He had tried to have the chemical sent to a freight company, which refused it.
Searches of his apartment uncovered chemicals, beakers and flasks, wiring and a Hazmat suit, among other items, the FBI said.
Agents also allegedly discovered a journal in which Aldawsari said his scholarship "will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad."
"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," he wrote, according to the FBI affidavit.
He was allegedly planning on renting several cars using different identifications, putting bombs in them and fleeing.
Aldawsari, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, is expected to make his first court appearance in Texas on Friday.
Last June, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty to trying to set off a car bomb in New York's busy Times Square. He is a naturalized US citizen who had come to the United States on a student visa several years earlier.
Top US officials have warned recently that, in addition to foreigners intent of attacks in the United States, the country faces a threat from homegrown extremists who are inspired by al Qaeda and are increasingly difficult to detect.
FBI director Robert Mueller has described a shift in al Qaeda's recruitment strategy, saying that since 2006, the network has focused on US citizens or legal residents instead of volunteers from the Middle East or South Asia.
US Senator Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the thwarted plot by the Saudi national still points to an alarming growth in domestic terrorism in the United States.
Collins said there were 22 homegrown plots by American citizens or legal permanent residents between May 2009 and November 2010 -- about as many as in the seven years between September 11, 2001 and May 2009, when there were 21 such plots.
"This plot is yet another example of radicalized extremists working to do us harm from within our borders. I am alarmed at the growth of homegrown terrorist plots," she said.
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