Alleged terrorist Khalid Aldawsari appeared Friday morning in a federal courthouse in Lubbock, Texas, on charges for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
The 20-year-old entered the U.S. legally from Saudi Arabia in October 2008 on a student visa to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech University.
FBI agents raided Aldawsari's home Wednesday, acting on a tip from a North Carolina supplier of phenol – commonly used in explosive trinitrophenol, also known as TNP or picric acid.
Authorities seized a journal revealing that the young man had plotted an attack long before entering the U.S. Other items found included equipment for bomb-making, including wiring and a hazmat suit.
"After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for jihad," Aldawsari wrote in his diary, according to court documents.
Aldawsari told the N.C. supplier that he was affiliated with a university, and needed large quantities of phenol for "off campus, personal research." After being challenged, Aldawsari canceled the order and emailed himself instructions for making phenol.
He later managed to purchase nitric and sulfuric acid last December, say prosecutors, who said Aldawsari needed just one more ingredient.
In emails apparently sent to himself, Aldawsari listed the address of former President George W. Bush among targets which also included several dams in Colorado and California.
The FBI affidavit also stated that he considered concealing explosives in infant dolls, and placing bomb-filled backpacks in nightclubs.
"Yesterday's arrest demonstrates the need for and the importance of vigilance and the willingness of private individuals and companies to ask questions and contact the authorities when confronted with suspicious activities," said James T. Jacks, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
Prosecutors maintain that the would-be terrorist had apparently acted alone. If convicted, Aldawsari will serve life in prison.
The Christian Response
Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer website founder Dr. Thomas Bruce has asked Christians to both forgive and pray for Aldawsari. The Bible verse placed prominently on the site is Matthew 5:44: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
"If … violence done in the name of Islam is primarily spiritual, then defeating it requires a spiritual response," Bruce wrote on his webpage.
He maintains that praying for terrorists is not only about being nice, but using a spiritual approach to change the hearts and minds of terrorists. Visitors to the site are encouraged to adopt a terrorist for prayer – from a database of 156 known terrorists including infamous shoe bomber Mohamed Osman Mohamud.
According to the site, 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden ranks most popular among adopted terrorists.