The 22-year-old Saudi “student” who landed in the United States with a visa to study and a dream to murder Americans was convicted in court of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, the FBI said. Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari could get life in prison for hatching the plot.
FBI agents arrested the would-be terrorist, a student at South Plains College in Lubbock, Texas last year after he bought the supplies to make a bomb.
The feds collared Aldawsari, then 20, after two companies notified the FBI that he was attempting to purchase a chemical that can be used to make bombs. The FBI’s arrest affidavit describes Aldawsari’s activities in detail.
“According to court documents and evidence presented during trial, at the time of his arrest last year, Aldawsari had been researching online how to construct an IED [improvised explosive device] using several chemicals as ingredients,” the FBI said after the “student’s” conviction.
He had also acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct an IED, and he had conducted online research of several potential U.S. targets, the affidavit alleges. In addition, he had allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.
That ingredient was phenol. Aldawsari wanted 10 bottles of it.
“Aldawsari attempted to have the phenol order shipped to a freight company so it could be held for him there, but the freight company told Aldawsari that the order had been returned to the supplier and called the police,” the FBI said.
Frustrated by questions being asked over his phenol order, Aldawsari cancelled his order, placed an order with another company, and later e-mailed himself instructions for producing phenol. In December 2010, he had successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids.
Also, the FBI proved, Aldawsari tried to e-mail himself the bombmaking instructions. “Aldawsari used various e-mail accounts in researching explosives and targets and often sent e-mails to himself as part of this process,” the FBI said, explaining,
He e-mailed himself a recipe for picric acid, which was described in the e-mail as a “military explosive” and also e-mailed himself instructions on how to convert a cell phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using household items. Aldawsari also purchased many other items, including a Hazmat suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers and flasks, a stun gun, clocks, and a battery tester.
Had it not been for two patriotic American companies, the 22-year-old Saudi might well have carried out his murderous plan.
As the Los Angeles Times reported when the FBI collared the phony student, president of Caroline Biological Supply Company Jim Parrish was partly responsible for stopping the Saudi bomber. He told the paper that “one day after shipping the product, we became aware that the order was suspicious. We immediately notified the FBI and ordered the product returned to us.”
Aldawsari used a debit card to buy 10 500-millimeter bottles of 80-percent-concentration phenol for $434.57. FedEx was the shipping agent. “FBI Special Agent Michael Orndorff said in the affidavit that he asked a company employee to call Aldawsari, who told them that he wanted the phenol for ‘off-campus, personal research,’” the Times reported. The paper continued,
Next, Orndorff said, he phoned Aldawsari, pretending to be another company employee, and Aldawsari said "he was conducting research into cleaners which contained phenol for the purpose of reducing their odor." He said he hoped the research would get him into a larger university.
Aldawsari phoned the company back, complaining of his "frustration and displeasure" and hinting that he would obtain the phenol somewhere else.
The FBI affidavit alleged that the Muslim bomber wrote himself e-mails that said he would hit “nice targets” such as hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. He e-mailed himself the address of former President George W. Bush, calling the home the “Tyrant’s House.” He also planned to murder three U.S. military officers.
He described his plan for mass murder in handwritten journals, the FBI said. “Excerpts from a journal found at Aldawsari’s residence indicated that he had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years,” the agency said, adding,
One entry describes how Aldawsari sought and obtained a particular scholarship because it allowed him to come directly to the United States and helped him financially, which he said “will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad.”
The entry continues, “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 also used Facebook to express his jihadist aims, and one of the emails he sent to himself explained how important killing Americans is to worldwide jihad: “One operation in the land of the infidels is equal to ten operations against occupying forces in the land of the Muslims.”
No Problem Entering the Country
Aldawsari had no trouble getting into the United States, much like the 9/11 hijackers who brought down the World Trade Center buildings, nearly destroyed the Pentagon, and hijacked the plane that was later forced down in Pennsylvania.
A company owned by the Saudi royal family sponsored Aldawsari’s visa and paid for his medical expenses, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.
Aldawsari “obtained a scholarship from Riyadh-based Saudi Basic Industries Corp. .... Under the program, SABIC pays students a monthly stipend and covers their housing, tuition and health care costs,” the newspaper reported. SABIC admitted it sent the jihadist here as part of scholarship program.
The would-be mass murderer, the New York Times revealed upon his arrest, began his collegiate career in the United States at Vanderbilt University, transferring to Texas Tech in Lubbock before finally landing at South Plains College in the same city.
A roommate, the Times reported, described the Saudi terrorist as living “in his own bubble.”
Photo of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari: AP Images