Scott Gordon, NBCDFW.com
Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari is expected to appear in federal court on Friday. He was charged Thursday with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with the alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Aldawsari, who is in the United States legally on a student visa, attends South Plains College in Lubbock.
He entered the United States in October 2008 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He later transferred to Texas Tech University, but transferred to South Plains College earlier this year and changed his major to business.
According to the affidavit, Aldawsari researched how to construct the weapon online and had researched several targets in the United States, including the Dallas address of former President George W. Bush. He listed Bush's address in an e-mail to himself entitled "Tyrant's House." (Click here to read the full affidavit.)
The released documents also say that Aldawsari created a blog that he posted extremist messages to.
He posted things such as "It is war ... until the infidels leave defeated," and “You who created mankind….grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path," to his blog.
According to the released documents, Aldawsari researched various targets and e-mailed himself information on the locations and people targeted.
The e-mails were frequently listed with the subject line "Targets" and allegedly contained the names and addresses of three former U.S. military members who had been stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The documents say that Aldawsari sent the names of 12 dams in California and Colorado in an e-mail titled "NICE TARGETS 01."
He allegedly sent categories of targets including hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants in another "NICE TARGETS" e-mail.
Aldawsari allegedly included the address to Bush's Preston Hollow home in a separate e-mail entitled "Tyrant's House."
Bush moved to Dallas in 2009 after finishing his second term in office.
Elsewhere in the affidavit, an agent detailed Aldawsari's Web searches for "party in dallas," "dallas night clubs," and "can u take a backpack to a nightclub," leading the agent to believe Aldawsari was considering the use of "an explosive concealed in a backpack" in an attack on a nightclub.
The affidavit and other documents did not disclose if Aldawsari had ever lived in the Dallas area, but his cell phone number contained a 972 area code that is normally reserved for the Dallas area. Most Lubbock phone numbers have a 806 area code.
Other improvised explosive containers mentioned in the affidavit included realistic-looking newborn and infant baby dolls.
One of the chemical companies Aldawsari allegedly contacted reported suspicious purchases to the FBI on Feb. 1.
Carolina Biological Supply in Burlington, N.C., reported attempts to purchase phenol, a chemical that can be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as TNP, or picric acid.
Within weeks, federal agents had traced his 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.
Aldawsari allegedly told the North Carolina company he was associated with a university and wanted the phenol for "off-campus, personal research," according to court records.
But frustrated by questions, Aldawsari canceled his order and later e-mailed himself instructions for producing phenol, investigators said.
Prosecutors said that in December 2010, he successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids that are combined to make TNP.
The White House said President Barack Obama was notified about the plot prior to Aldawsari's arrest Wednesday.
"This arrest once again underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement Thursday.
In a press release on Aldawsari's arrest, the Department of Justice encouraged "continued vigilance."
“As alleged in the complaint, Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States," Assistant Attorney General David Kris said in the statement. "Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further. This case serves as another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad.”
“Yesterday’s arrest demonstrates the need for and the importance of vigilance and the willingness of private individuals and companies to ask questions and contact the authorities when confronted with suspicious activities," U.S. Attorney Jacks said in the statement. "Based upon reports from the public, Aldawsari’s plot was uncovered and thwarted. We’re confident we have neutralized the alleged threat posed by this defendant. Those reports resulted in the initiation of a complex and far-reaching investigation requiring almost around the clock work by hundreds of dedicated FBI agents, analysts, prosecutors and others. Their effort is another example of the work being done to protect our country and its citizens. These individuals are deserving of our respect and gratitude,” said
“This arrest and criminal charge is a result of the success of the FBI's counterterrorism strategy, which is to detect, penetrate, and disrupt terrorist plots in the United States and against U.S. interests abroad. In this case, FBI Agents and other FBI experts worked tirelessly to neutralize the imminent terrorist threat described in the criminal complaint. The public can be justifiably proud of the national security expertise shown by the FBI in this investigation,” said Robert E. Casey, special agent in charge of the FBI Dallas Field Division.