Saudi in Texas arrested on terrorism charges

Both CNN and Fox are reporting this morning that a Saudi national in the US on a student visa has been arrested on charges of terrorism — and this was no sting, as Jeanne Meserve reports in this clip:

A Saudi national living in Texas was arrested Wednesday allegedly after he acquired chemicals to make a bomb and researched several possible targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, and nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams.

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, of Lubbock, Texas, was arrested on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device, according to the Justice Department.

Fox’s report says that the Saudi traveled to the US for the specific purpose of launching terrorist attacks:

Federal authorities say Aldawsari’s diary indicated the young man had been plotting an attack for years and obtained a scholarship so he could come directly to the United State to carry out jihad.

Hmmm. Sound familiar? In this case, the sources of the chemicals Aldawsari bought got suspicious of his purchases and tipped the FBI to the sales.

Regardless of how this case ends, expect the issue of student visas from Saudi Arabia to get more exposure. We do not appear to have improved the vetting process for issuing those documents enough since 9/11.

Update: Andy McCarthy has more from the DoJ press release:

Aldawsari allegedly attempted to have the phenol order shipped to a freight company so it could be held for him there, but the freight company returned the order to the supplier and called the police. Later, Aldawsari falsely told the supplier he was associated with a university and wanted the phenol for “off-campus, personal research.” Frustrated by questions being asked over his phenol order, Aldawsari cancelled his order and later e-mailed himself instructions for producing phenol. The affidavit alleges that in December 2010, he successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids. . . .

Aldawsari used various e-mail accounts in researching explosives and targets, and often sent emails to himself as part of this process. On Feb. 11, 2011, for instance, he allegedly e-mailed himself a recipe for picric acid, which the e-mail describes as a “military explosive.” He also allegedly sent himself an e-mail on Oct. 19, 2010 that contained information on the material required for Nitro Urea, how to prepare it, and the advantages of using it. [O]n Feb. 1, 2011, a chemical supplier reported to the FBI a suspicious attempted purchase of concentrated phenol by a man identifying himself as Khalid Aldawsari. According to the affidavit, phenol is a toxic chemical with legitimate uses, but can also be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as T.N.P., or picric acid. . . .

Aldawsari also e-mailed himself instructions on how to convert a cellular phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using items available in every home. One e-mail allegedly contained a message stating that “one operation in the land of the infidels is equal to ten operations against occupying forces in the land of the Muslims.” During December 2010 and January 2011, Aldawsari allegedly purchased many other items, including a gas mask, a Hazmat suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers and flasks, wiring, a stun gun, clocks and a battery tester.

For a “student,” Aldawsari seemed pretty inept about avoiding a paper trail.