Arrested Saudi terror suspect appears in court

Arrested Saudi terror suspect appears in court

US Marshals escorted handcuffed Khalid Ali-M-Aldawsari into US District Court, Northern District of Texas yesterday, two days after he was arrested on terror charges.
The Saudi resident did not enter an official plea at the appearance. His next court hearing has been set for March 11, when he will enter an official plea.

"I request that everyone take a step back and allow the legal proceedings to unfold in a timely and orderly fashion," Aldawsari's lawyer Rod Hobson said in a statement.
Hobson said his client will enter a "not guilty" plea and "as an accused person, Aldawsari is presumed innocent."

"The eyes of the world are on this case and the treatment of this accused person. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to show the world how truly fair our legal system is, even to those who are accused of trying to harm our country," he added.

The Justice Department said Aldawsari bought explosive chemicals online and planned to blow up dams, nuclear plants, or the Dallas home of Bush.

The 20-year-old engineering student has reportedly said that he had been inspired by 9/11 terror attacks and speeches by Osama bin Laden.

When asked by Judge Nancy Koenig if he understands the charges against him, he replied: "Yes, I do".

Judge Koenig also asked Aldawsari if he had been contacted by the Saudi Consulate, to which he answered "Yes".

The judge ordered him to remain in custody until a March 11 detention hearing.
If convicted, Aldawsari faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

In his journal, the college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Texas described a plan to travel to New York City, place bombs in several rental cars for remote detonation and leave the vehicles in different places during rush hour, according to court documents released on 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, Aldawsari wrote in the journal, according to documents filed by prosecutors.

In a statement, Aldawsari's attorney Hobson called press coverage since his client's arrest "very one-sided and biased," and suggested it has made it difficult for Aldawsari to receive a fair trial in Lubbock."This is not 'Alice in Wonderland' where the Queen said, 'First the punishment, then the trial,'" Hobson said.

"This is America, where everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence, due process, effective representation of counsel and a fair trial.

FBI special agent in charge of the case, Robert Casey said: "As we lay out in this affidavit, there were a range of targets being contemplated".

Aldawsari, who was legally in the US on a student visa, studied at Texas Tech University until January before transferring to a nearby college to study business.
The White House said President Barack Obama was notified about the alleged plot before Aldawsari's arrest.

Telephone numbers that Aldawsari had provided to others were not working on Thursday. No one answered the buzzer or a knock on the door at the address listed as Aldawsari's apartment near the Texas Tech campus.

"We think we have neutralised any other threats or imminent harm surrounding the actions that he's charged with, but the investigation is continuing," Casey said.
Aldawsari reportedly wrote that he was planning an attack even before coming to the US on a scholarship and that he was influenced by Osama bin Laden's speeches and bemoaned the plight of Muslims, the court documents said.

Federal authorities said they learned of the plot after a chemical company, Carolina Biological Supply of Burlington, N C reported USD 435 in suspicious order by Aldawsari to the FBI on February 1.

Separately, a 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 made on the Internet and secretly searched his apartment, computer and e-mail accounts and read his diary, according to court records.

The FBI said the North Carolina company reported the attempts to purchase 1.3 gallons of phenol, a chemical that can be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as TNP, or picric acid.

Aldawsari falsely told the supplier he was associated with a university and wanted the phenol for "off-campus, personal research," according to court records.

Frustrated by questions, Aldawsari cancelled his order and later e-mailed himself instructions for producing phenol, the documents say.

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 explosive.That's about the same amount used per bomb in the London subway attacks that killed scores of people in July 2005.

Prosecutors said that in December, he bought 30 litres of concentrated nitric acid for about USD 450 from QualiChem Technologies in Georgia, and three gallons of concentrated sulfuric acid that are combined to make TNP.

FBI later found the chemicals in Aldawsari's apartment as well as beakers, flasks, wiring, a Hazmat suit and clocks.A Saudi industrial company, which was not identified in court documents, was paying Aldawsari's tuition and living expenses in the US.
Much like the terrorists who executed the 9/11th attacks, Aldawsari laid low after coming to the US in 2009.

To those who lived around him, the 20-year-old Saudi Arabian was just another college kid with headphones in his ears, who really kept to himself.

"I was really shocked to get this phone call because he was a very good student by all means," Bosun Jang, a former academic adviser of Aldawsari, said. According to his blog, Aldawsari's plan was to use a schlarship from Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) to enter the country.

Excerpts from Aldawsari's blog state: "the sponsoring corporation's financial scholarship is the largest, which will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad, God willing".

Even going as far as to write: "I wish to create an Islamic group under the banner of Al-Qa'ida and sharing Al-Qa'ida's agenda".
"They have brainwashed him and told him if you do some extremist or violent actions, then God will be pleased with you and he will take you to heaven," Samer Altabaa of the Islamic Center of the South Plains said.

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