POSTED: Friday, February 25, 2011 - 11:29am
UPDATED: Friday, February 25, 2011 - 11:31am
LUBBOCK - A college student from Saudi Arabia is appearing in a Lubbock, TX courtroom on charges he planned to launch terror attacks in the U.S.
Just three weeks ago, the FBI says, a North Carolina company got what it considered a strange order from a Texas student for a chemical that can be used in making explosives.
"He placed the order. The day after it was shipped, we became aware of some suspicious circumstances around that shipment. We immediately notified the FBI."
The student used his real name to make the order -Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari. He is a native of Saudi Arabia but has been living in the U.S. since 2008.
Another tip came from a shipping company in Lubbock. Aldawsari wanted the chemicals sent to the company's office because hazardous materials could not be sent to his home. The company tipped off police.
The FBI told the Lubbock City Council it was a huge break.
"They consulted with us immediately, allowing us to preserve certain covert investigative opportunities that ultimately neutralized what was absolutely a planned act of terrorism in the United States."
It was such a covert investigation that Aldawsari never knew the FBI secretly searching his apartment, discovering that he was well on his way to building a powerful bomb.
The FBI says he wrote in a diary of planning to commit a terror attack in the U.S. since he was in high school in Saudi Arabia, studying hard there, he wrote, to qualify for Saudi government scholarships to come here for college.
Investigators says he wrote, "After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad."
The FBI says Aldawsari researched possible targets online - dams in Colorado or California, New York City streets for possible car bombs, even the Dallas home of former president George W. Bush.
"This case is particularly disturbing, because he wasn't communicating with anybody outside the United States. Therefore it makes him very difficult to detect by law enforcement."