MSNBC—A 20-year-old Saudi student has been charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and may have targeted former President George W. Bush, the Justice Department said Thursday.
FBI agents arrested Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, who was admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa, in Texas on Wednesday. The Justice Department accuses him of purchasing chemicals and equipment to make an improvised explosive device.
Aldawsari, a chemical engineering student at South Plains College near Lubbock, allegedly referred to Bush's Dallas home as a "tyrant's house" and may have contemplated using dolls and baby carriages to blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Bush home in Dallas, the Justice Department said.
"It is war ... until the infidels leave defeated," the student wrote in online postings.
Aldawsari entered the U.S. in October 2008 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech University, then transferred earlier this year to nearby South Plains College.
The terrorism case against Aldawsari was significant because it demonstrated that radicalized foreigners can live quietly in the U.S. heartland without raising suspicions from neighbors, classmates, teachers or others. But it also showed how quickly U.S. law enforcement can move when tipped that a terrorist plot may be unfolding.
The White House said President Barack Obama was notified about the alleged plot before Aldawsari's arrest Wednesday. "This arrest once again underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement Thursday.
Aldawsari allegedly sent himself a series of emails identifying possible targets, including the homes of three U.S. military troops who had served at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and reservoir dams in Colorado and California.
An affidavit filed in support of the government's claims said Aldawsari appeared to be training himself how to create detonators and bombs using household items and commercially available scientific supplies.
Two searches of his apartment conducted by the FBI this month turned up "concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids; the beakers and flasks; wiring; Hazmat suit; and clocks," the DOJ statement said.
Agents also found a notebook believed to be Aldawsari's journal, in which he allegedly wrote that he'd been planning to commit an attack on U.S. soil for years and specifically sought out a certain scholarship because it would get him into the country and provide funds that would "help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad."
In the same entry describing his pursuit of the scholarship, which he did obtain, he allegedly wrote, "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 affidavit claims Aldawsari also created a blog where he posted radical messages. One post allegedly written by the Saudi said, "You who created mankind ... grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path." (Read more.)
Hmmm. Now where would a young Muslim get the idea that he's supposed to fight non-Muslims? Oh wait, now I remember:
Qur’an 9:123—O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.
Qur’an 48:29—Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves.
Qur’an 9:29—Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
Sahih al-Bukhari 6924—Allah’s Messenger said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: La ilaha illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and whoever said La ilaha illahllah, Allah will save his property and his life from me.”
But he was apparently targeting George W. Bush, who sent U.S. troops to Muslim countries. Where on earth would a young Muslim get the idea that Muslims should kill people who send troops to Muslim lands? Oops. I guess I forgot:
Qur'an 5:33—The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.
I still can't figure out, though, where this guy got the idea that dying in a Jihad is admirable. Oh dear . . .
Sahih al-Bukhari 2795—Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, “Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world, even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again (in Allah’s cause).”
Sahih al-Bukhari 2796—Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, “A single endeavor (of fighting) in Allah’s cause in the afternoon or in the forenoon is better than all the world and whatever is in it.”
Sahih al-Bukhari 2797—Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet said, . . . “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then come back to life and then get martyred, and then come back to life again and then get martyred and then come back to life again and then get martyred.”
You know, I'm starting to think that Muhammad's teachings may actually have something to do with the actions of Muslims.