In Texas Courtroom, Saudi Denies Plotting Bomb Attacks
Published: March 28, 2011
A Saudi man who had been a student at Vanderbilt and Texas Tech Universities pleaded not guilty on Monday in federal court in Lubbock, Tex., to a charge of trying to assemble an explosive device, with the potential to be used for American targets including New York City, a Dallas residence of former President George W. Bush and dams.
The defendant, Khalid Aldawsari, 20, a chemical engineering student, had obtained two of the three chemicals needed to assemble a bomb during the past several months and had sought to buy the third, prosecutors said. He was arrested Feb. 23.
Mr. Aldawsari faces a single count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a penalty of life in prison. A federal judge has barred lawyers from discussing the case publicly. The trial is scheduled to start May 2.
Federal officials said Mr. Aldawsari first came under suspicion after placing an online order in late January with a North Carolina chemical supply company for phenol, to be shipped to a Lubbock address. Phenol is explosive when combined with the two other chemicals Mr. Aldawsari was said to have obtained.
The company reported Mr. Aldawsari’s order to the F.B.I. on Feb. 1, and within days law enforcement officials were secretly searching Mr. Aldawsari’s home, where they said they found chemical lab equipment and read his diary.
In it, Mr. Aldawsari wrote that his enrollment at Texas Tech had given him a type of access to his desired targets, officials said. It also made clear, they said, that he had planned to carry out bombings long before September 2008, when he came to the United States on a student visa.“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,” Mr. Aldawsari wrote, according to court documents.