A Saudi man pleaded not guilty in a Lubbock courtroom on March 28 to one count of attempted use a weapon of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2332a(a)(2)(A) and (D). Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari will now face trial on May 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Lubbock. Federal officials arrested Aldawsari on Feb. 23, according to a warrant for arrest filed March 1. According to an Affidavit in Support of Criminal Complaint and Arrest Warrant filed Feb. 23, a federal investigation revealed the 20-year-old allegedly researched bomb-making techniques, purchased chemicals and equipment, and e-mailed himself lists of potential targets. In addition to sending himself an e-mail titled “Tyrant’s House,” listing former President George Bush’s address, the affidavit claims Aldawsari sent himself an e-mail titled “NICE TARGETS 01,” listing 12 reservoirs or dams; an e-mail titled “NICE TARGETS,” listing hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants as two categories of targets; and an e-mail titled “Targets,” listing the addresses of three former U.S. servicemembers who had been stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Aldawsari faces up to life in prison if convicted, according to the government’s Feb. 25 Motion for Pretrial Detention and Continuance. The defense attorney, Roderique Hobson of Roderique Hobson Law Office in Lubbock, declines comment because a March 9 court order prevents parties, their representatives or their attorneys from speaking with the news media. Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Richard Baker didn’t immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. According to the Feb. 23 affidavit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began looking at the defendant after a chemical company reported he allegedly ordered a large amount of phenol, an ingredient which can be used in an explosive called Tri-Nitro-Phenol. Aldawsari never received the phenol, the complaint says. While conducting electronic surveillance, the affidavit says investigators found e-mails Aldawsari allegedly sent to himself providing instructions about how to make explosives. The affidavit lists other e-mails regarding his orders for nitric and sulfuric acid and orders for equipment like a laboratory set, flasks and wiring. Officials later found these supplies when they searched Aldawsari’s apartment in Lubbock, the affidavit says. In addition, investigators found a blog on the Internet, on which the affidavit claims, “Aldawsari vowed to take a different path through jihad and martyrdom.” They also found a hand-written notebook allegedly written by Aldawsari, in which he “indicates that he has been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years,” according to the affidavit.
-- Angela Morris