|Khalid Aldawsari, convicted on Wednesday|
His lawyer called him "a harmless failure... a failure academically... a failure at relationships". But on Wednesday a Texas jury took less than two hours to convict a Saudi Arabian man, 22, of terrorist charges relating to when he was a student at Texas Tech University. The "failure" was arrested in February 2011 after bomb-making chemicals, wiring, a hazmat suit and clocks, as well as videos showing how to prepare a chemical explosive called TNO, were found in his apartment.
The evidence (according to a Washington Post report) is that Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari was researching several targets including nuclear power plants, the homes of three former soldiers who had been stationed at Abu Ghraib prison - and the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush. A local Texas news report prior to the trial said that "jihadist writings" were found in his personal journal along with notes about plans to explode car bombs in New York City and carrying a backpack into a Dallas night club.
Among the potential targets Aldawsari allegedly considered: former President George W. Bush’s Dallas home; the Cotton Bowl; the homes of three soldiers once stationed at the Army’s controversial Abu Ghraib prison; and dams in California and Colorado.
His defence lawyers agreed with prosecutors that he had intent but argued (the "loser" defence) that he never came close to actually attacking anyone. Loser he may well have been, but (a) he managed to get into a decent American university and (c) bomb experts from the FBI said he was on track to making 15 pounds of explosive; that's the amount used per bomb in the 2005 London Islamist subway attacks.
“It just didn’t happen overnight, on impulse,” federal prosecutor Jeffrey Haag said during closing arguments Wednesday morning. “This is something Mr. Aldawsari has been planning for a very, very, very long time.” ...Aldawsari came legally to the United States from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech. He transferred in early 2011 to nearby South Plains College, where he was studying business. A Saudi industrial company was paying his tuition and living expenses in the United States. His intentions all along, according to prosecutors, were to plot an attack. “His focus was on jihad and he was marching down that road,” said ...another prosecutor. “He’s been marching since he was 11 years old.”
Do the police or the news media care which Saudi industrial company was paying his tuition and living expenses? Is anyone concerned to know if this is the only "student" planted this way in the US? Is there not some way for immigration authorities to make an educated guess about which of the thousands of Saudi students applying for admission to the US each year have also been "marching" since they were 11 years old? And how many "loner" Saudi "losers" does it take before Western societies start recognizing a pattern?