Student Planned to Use Weapon of Mass Destruction

Student Planned to Use Weapon of Mass Destruction

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Student Planned to Use Weapon of Mass Destruction


On November 13, 2012, the Department of Justice announced that Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari was sentenced to life in prison for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.  The Saudi Arabian national was admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa for South Plains College near Lubbock.  


On February 1, 2011, a chemical supplier told the FBI that they received a suspicious request for concentrated phenol by Aldawsari.  Phenol is used to make explosive trinitrophenol (T.N.P.) or picric acid.  The chemicals needed to make T.N.P. or picric acid include sulfuric and nitric acids.  Aldawsari told the company he wanted the chemicals sent to a freight company for “off-campus, personal research.”  He eventually cancelled the order, but he obtained concentrated nitric and sulfuric acid by December 2010.  


A journal found at Aldawsari’s resident showed that he was planning a terrorist attack on the United States for years.  The journal stated that a scholarship greatly helped him come to the United States, and the journal specifically stated, “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.”


The investigation proved that Aldawsari sent emails to himself that contained instructions on how to make powerful explosives, how to turn a cell phone into a detonator, and how to make a bomb out of a vehicle.  He also bought a Hazmat suit, multiple beakers and flasks, a battery tester, a soldering iron kit, and more.  


U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña stated, “This case, in which private citizens paid attention to details and notified authorities of their suspicions, serves as a reminder to all private citizens that we must always be observant and vigilant, as there are some who intend to cause great harm.  Khalid Aldawsari, acting as a lone wolf, may well have gone undetected were it not for the keen observations of private citizens.”


Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

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