Thursday, February 24, 2011
Lubbock, Texas (KCBD) - A college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Lubbock, Texas bought explosive chemicals online as part of a plan to hide bomb materials inside dolls and baby carriages to blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, the Justice Department said Thursday. "After mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for jihad," or holy war, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari wrote in his private journal, according to court documents.
Aldawsari lived at The Centre at Overton Park just down the hall from Texas Tech student Landon Lepard. "My friends called and said hey there is a terrorist in your apartment and I said what? I found out that he lived down the hall and I saw that he was literally right around the corner," Lepard said.
Aldawsari lives in unit 2303 at The Centre where students say he kept a low profile. Court documents show that on February 14th and 17th the FBI searched Aldawsari's apartment. They found chemicals like sulfuric and nitric acids, dismantled alarm clocks, and other tools for making explosives.
Lepard said he noticed more police around his apartment last week. "Over the weekend I saw a heavier police presence. We were here on Thursday and there were lots of sheriffs and deputies."
Mayor Tom Martin said the FBI and local officials have been following Aldawsari for weeks. "There was information that came over a period of weeks but it takes that long I assure you that he was not out of surveillance while they were gathering that information," Martin said.
Students say they often saw Aldawsari at the bus stop. "He was just a normal guy I guess, sometimes he seemed a little weird," Tech student Bo Whitney said.
"He was kind of quiet, he always stood off by himself in the corner using his ipod or something. Somebody like that who is secluded makes you wonder like what's he doing on his own time, I guess as it turns out he's was making bombs," Whitney continued.
Landon Lepard says he still cant believe he was living down the hall from someone who had the intentions of committing a terrorist attack in the US.
"It's unbelievable and shocking you know, that this happened in Lubbock, much less in the same building," Lepard said.
"It's scary, I don't want that going on anywhere, much less where I lay my head at night, what if he messed up and blew up the whole building," Tech student Bo Whitney said.
The 20-year-old Aldawsari wrote that he was planning an attack in the United States for years, even before coming to the U.S. on a scholarship. He said he was influenced by Osama bin Laden's speeches and that he bemoaned the plight of Muslims.
READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE
RELATED LINK: ALDAWSARI'S FACEBOOK PAGE
Posted by Steve Douglass at 8:15 PM
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Air Force announced Thursday it awarded a $3.5 billion initial contract to Boeing for the production of 18 next-generation aerial refueling tankers.
That is a down payment on a contract worth about $35 billion for 179 planes.
Aerial refueling tankers allow the military to refuel aircraft in mid flight, greatly extending the range of operation for smaller aircraft, while also providing the capability to carry cargo and airlift personnel.
Both Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) and the North American unit of EADS -- which owns Airbus --submitted bids for the blockbuster contract and planned to base their planes on popular civilian aircraft, specifically the Boeing 767 and Airbus A330.
"We're honored to be given the opportunity to build the Air Force's next tanker and provide a vital capability to the men and women of our armed forces," Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement.
Boeing shares jumped more than 3% in after-hours trading.
The announcement is the culmination of a decade-long process that has been fraught with pitfalls and political pressure as lawmakers lobbied to bring the project -- and resulting jobs -- into their districts.
Both companies estimated the contract would support thousands of jobs, with Boeing planning to build the aircraft in Everett, Wash., and Wichita, Kan. EADS would have based its production facilities in Mobile, Ala.
On Wednesday, Gulf state governors sent a letter to President Obama, saying the contract could significantly boost their state economies, which are reeling from natural and man-made disasters.
But on Thursday, it was Govs. Christine Gregoire of Washington and Sam Brownback of Kansas who won out.
They had sent a letter of their own to Obama, arguing, "We believe this tanker will best meet the Air Force's requirements and prove the best value for the American taxpayer."
Gregoire said in a statement Thursday that it was a great day for "the 11,000 aerospace workers in Washington state alone that will play a role in assembling the NewGen tanker."
In a conference call with reporters, Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said that the program will support more than 50,000 jobs and 800 suppliers spread across more than 40 states.
EADS has the right to protest the Pentagon's decision, but Pentagon officials said Thursday they were confident any appeal would fail. Still, with jobs at stake, there will be political pressure to try and overturn the decision.
"I am deeply disappointed that the EADS team was not selected to build the next air refueling tanker for the Air Force," Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said in a statement. "In light of today's result, I intend to examine the process carefully to ensure it was fairly conducted."
The contract has had a long and convoluted history.
Northrop Grumman and European partner EADS originally won the contract in February 2008. But Boeing protested and the Air Force reversed its decision and changed the requirements for the plane.
Northrop later said it would not bid on a multi-billion-dollar contract to build the tanker because it believed the rules for the contract favored its competitor, Boeing.
After Northrop dropped out, its partner company, EADS, asked the Pentagon for a 90-day extension to file its own bid.
The tankers will replace the aging Boeing KC-135, which first entered service in 1957. About 100 of the oldest "Stratotanker" models have been grounded since 2006 due to age.
Originally needed to keep B-52 nuclear bombers in the air for long periods of time, the Stratotanker quickly found new missions in Vietnam, where it enabled small fighter bombers to strike targets anywhere in the country. It revolutionized the use of air power, and is continuing to play that role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
-- CNN Senior Producer Scott Spoerry contributed to this report
Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:48 PM
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Discovery, the world's most traveled spaceship, thundered into orbit for the final time Thursday, heading toward the International Space Station on a journey that marks the beginning of the end of the shuttle era.
Views across most of Southwest Florida were obscured by clouds. But some WINK News viewers in Cape Coral and Collier County report seeing the launch.
The six astronauts on board, all experienced space fliers, were thrilled to be on their way after a delay of nearly four months for fuel tank repairs. But it puts Discovery on the cusp of retirement when it returns in 11 days and eventually heads to a museum.
Discovery is the oldest of NASA's three surviving space shuttles and the first to be decommissioned this year. Two missions remain, first by Atlantis and then Endeavour, to end the 30-year program.
Launch director Mike Leinbach anticipated it would be "tough" to see Discovery take off for the 39th and final time, and even harder when it returns March 7.
"It's a very, very personal thing that we love to do," Leinbach explained. "It's a lot more than just our livelihood. It gets in our soul."
Emotions ran high as Discovery rocketed off its seaside pad into a late afternoon clear blue sky, and arced out over the Atlantic on its farewell flight. There were a tense few minutes before liftoff when an Air Force computer problem popped up. The issue was resolved and Discovery took off about three minutes late, with just a few seconds left.
"The venerable veteran of America's human spaceflight fleet," as the launch commentator called it earlier in the day, will reach the space station Saturday, delivering a small chamber full of supplies and an experimental humanoid robot. The orbiting lab was soaring over the South Pacific when Discovery blasted off under the command of retired Air Force Col. Steven Lindsey.
NASA is under presidential direction to retire the shuttle fleet this summer, let private companies take over trips to orbit and focus on getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars.
An estimated 40,000 guests gathered at Kennedy Space Center to witness history in the making, including a small delegation from Congress and Florida's new Gov. Rick Scott. Discovery frenzy took over not only the launch site, but neighboring towns.
Roads leading to the launching site were jammed with cars parked two and three deep; recreational vehicles snagged prime viewing spots along the Banana River well before dawn. Businesses and governments joined in, their signs offering words of encouragement.
"The heavens await Discovery," a Cocoa Beach church proclaimed. Groceries stocked up on extra red, white and blue cakes with shuttle pictures. Stores ran out of camera batteries.
The launch team also got into the act. A competition was held to craft the departing salutation from Launch Control; Kennedy's public affairs office normally comes up with the parting line. Souvenir photos of Discovery were set aside for controllers in the firing room. Many posed for group shots.
Lindsey and his crew paused to take in the significance of it all, before boarding Discovery. They embraced in a group hug at the base of the launch pad.
Unlike the first try back in November, no hydrogen gas leaked during Thursday's fueling.
NASA also was confident no cracks would develop in the external fuel tank; nothing serious was spotted during the final checks at the pad. Both problems cropped up during the initial countdown in early November, and the repairs took almost four months. The cracks in the midsection of the tank, which holds instruments but no fuel, could have been dangerous.
The lengthy postponement kept one of the original crew from flying.
Astronaut Timothy Kopra, the lead spacewalker, was hurt when he wrecked his bicycle last month. Experienced spacewalker Stephen Bowen stepped in and became the first astronaut to fly back-to-back shuttle missions.
Packed aboard Discovery is Robonaut 2, or R2, set to become the first humanoid robot in space. The experimental machine - looking human from the waist up - will remain boxed until after Discovery departs. Its twin was at the launch site, perched atop a rover, waving goodbye.
Discovery already has 143 million miles to its credit, beginning with its first flight in 1984. By the time this mission ends, the shuttle will have tacked on another 4.5 million miles. And it will have spent 363 days in space and circled Earth 5,800 times.
No other spacecraft has been launched so many times.
Discovery's list of achievements include delivering the Hubble Space Telescope to orbit, carrying the first Russian cosmonaut to launch on a U.S. spaceship, performing the first rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir with the first female shuttle pilot in the cockpit, returning Mercury astronaut John Glenn to orbit, and bringing shuttle flights back to life after the Challenger and Columbia accidents.
Discovery is expected to be eventually put on display by the Smithsonian Institution.
Read more: http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florida/2011-02-24/Shuttle-Discovery-launch-successful-Some-in-SWFL-see-lift-off#ixzz1EuyGxiJq
Posted by Steve Douglass at 2:26 PM
WASHINGTON – Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a citizen of Saudi Arabia and resident of Lubbock, Texas, was arrested late yesterday by FBI agents in Texas 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 arrest and the criminal complaint, which was unsealed in the Northern District of Texas, were announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; James T. Jacks, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas; and Robert E. Casey Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Dallas Field Division.
Aldawsari is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock at 9:00 a.m. on Friday morning. Aldawsari, who was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, Aldawsari has been researching online how to construct an IED using several chemicals as ingredients. He has also acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct an IED and he has conducted online research of several potential U.S. targets, the affidavit alleges. In addition, he has allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.
"As alleged in the complaint, Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States. Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further," said Assistant Attorney General Kris. "This case serves as another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad."
"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. Based upon reports from the public, Aldawsari's plot was uncovered and thwarted. We're confident we have neutralized the alleged threat posed by this defendant. Those reports resulted in the initiation of a complex and far-reaching investigation requiring almost around the clock work by hundreds of dedicated FBI agents, analysts, prosecutors and others. Their effort is another example of the work being done to protect our country and its citizens. These individuals are deserving of our respect and gratitude," said U.S. Attorney Jacks.
"This arrest and criminal charge is a result of the success of the FBI's counterterrorism strategy, which is to detect, penetrate, and disrupt terrorist plots in the United States and against U.S. interests abroad. In this case, FBI Agents and other FBI experts worked tirelessly to neutralize the imminent terrorist threat described in the criminal complaint. The public can be justifiably proud of the national security expertise shown by the FBI in this investigation," said Special Agent in Charge Casey.
Purchases of Chemical Ingredients and Other Equipment
The affidavit alleges that on 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. The affidavit alleges that other ingredients typically used with phenol to make picric acid, or T.N.P., are concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids.
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.
According to the affidavit, legally authorized electronic surveillance revealed that 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.
The affidavit alleges that 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.
Searches of Aldawsari's Residence
Two legally authorized searches of Aldawsari's apartment conducted by the FBI in February 2011 indicated that the concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids; the beakers and flasks; wiring; Hazmat suit; and clocks were present in Aldawsari's residence.
FBI agents also found a notebook at Aldawsari's residence that appeared to be a diary or journal. According to the affidavit, excerpts from the journal indicate that Aldawsari had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years. One entry describes how Aldawsari sought and obtained a particular scholarship because it allowed him to come directly to the United State and helped him financially, which he said "will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad." The entry continues: "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."
In another entry, Aldawsari allegedly wrote that he was near to reaching his goal and near to getting weapons to use against infidels and their helpers. He also listed a "synopsis of important steps" that included obtaining a forged U.S. birth certificate; renting a car; using different driver's licenses for each car rented; putting bombs in cars and taking them to different places during rush hour; and leaving the city for a safe place.
Research on Potential Targets
According to the affidavit, Aldawsari conducted research on various targets and e-mailed himself information on these locations and people. One of the documents he sent himself, with the subject line listed as "Targets," allegedly contained the names and home addresses of three American citizens who had previously served in the U.S. military and had been stationed for a time at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
In another e-mail titled "NICE TARGETS 01," Aldawsari allegedly sent himself the names of 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California. In another e-mail to himself, titled "NICE TARGETS," he listed two categories of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. On Feb. 6, 2011, the affidavit alleges, Aldawsari sent himself an e-mail titled "Tyrant's House," in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush. The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari conducted research that could indicate his consideration of the use of infant dolls to conceal explosives and possible targeting of a nightclub with an explosive concealed in a backpack.
The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari created a blog in which he posted extremist messages. In one posting, he expressed dissatisfaction with current conditions of Muslims and vowed jihad and martyrdom. "You who created mankind….grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path," he wrote.
This case was investigated by the FBI's Dallas Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Lubbock Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Baker and Denise Williams from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas, and Trial Attorney David Cora from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department's National Security Division.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 8:21 AM