NPR logo Saudi Man Arrested In Texas On WMD Charge; Allegedly Had Bush's Address


Saudi Man Arrested In Texas On WMD Charge; Allegedly Had Bush's Address

A 20-year-old Saudi man attending college in Texas has been 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 (IED) and his research of potential U.S. targets," the Justice Department just announced.

That research of possible targets, Justice alleges, included getting the address of former President George W. Bush's home in Dallas.

In a statement (posted here), Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris says that Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari allegedly "purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States."

Aldawsari, investigators allege, bought "concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids" and tried to buy phenol — which "can ... be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as T.N.P., or picric acid."

"Legally authorized electronic surveillance," Justice says, "revealed that Aldawsari used various e-mail accounts in researching explosives and targets, and often sent emails to himself as part of this process."

Among the information allegedly in those messages: "Aldawsari sent himself an e-mail titled 'Tyrant's House,' in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush," Justice says.

Update at 2:50 p.m. ET: The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that "a former classmate and fellow Saudi described Aldawsari as a loner who did not interact with other Islamic students or Saudis." Aldawsari was attending South Plains College in Lubbock.

The newspaper adds that neighbors in Aldawsari's apartment building "recognized him from news reports, but ... said they'd never really noticed him while he lived there."

"I'd just seen him in passing, but nothing ever spectacular or weird about him," said neighbor Sally Dierschke, the newspaper wrote.

Update at 12:35 p.m. ET. No Foreign Group Said To Be Involved. The Dallas Morning News writes that:

"Special Agent Mark White, a spokesman for the Dallas FBI, whose jurisdiction includes Lubbock, said the terrorism investigation is ongoing, but 'the federal complaint contains no allegations that he received direction from or was under the control of a foreign terrorist organization.' "

Update at 11:35 a.m. ET. Here is the Justice Department statement (just click "fullscreen" to make it easier to read):