Bomb Plot Defense Presents No Evidence
AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — Defense attorneys for a Saudi man accused in a plot to bomb Americans made quick work of their case: They rested without calling any witnesses or presenting any evidence.
Closing arguments in the federal trial of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari in Amarillo are expected Wednesday morning.
The 22-year-old former Texas Tech chemical engineering student faces up to life in prison if convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Prosecutors say he had long-planned an attack, amassing nearly all the necessary materials and creating a target list that included former President George W. Bush's home in Dallas.
Prosecutors capped three days of testimony Tuesday by playing a recording of Aldawsari saying he'd get "maximum satisfaction" and would be "smiling" after carrying out a terror attack in the U.S.
Defense attorneys contend he never took the necessary "substantial step" because he didn't make a bomb.
Federal agents secretly searched Aldawsari's apartment and hid microphones therein that they say captured him speaking out loud the night before his Feb. 23, 2011, arrest. Authorities said that Aldawsari was alone when he was recorded.
In the recording, Aldawsari is speaking as if he's someone else commenting on a terror attack that he carried out. He says the perpetrator of the terror attack would be "smiling" and getting "maximum satisfaction" from the destruction caused.
Aldawsari says Americans deserved the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and must die "because you people deserve it" for causing the deaths of others.
"This is the ideology he follows," Aldawsari says on the recording, speaking about himself.
A computer forensics expert testified that Aldawsari had searched online for former President George W. Bush's "farm"; locations where Bush would be signing copies of his book, "Decision Points"; and Bush's home, including an aerial photo of the North Dallas residence.
Capt. David Parker, who is also a detective with the university's police department and a member of a joint terrorism task force, said Aldawsari appeared to be considering an attack at the October 2010 Texas vs Oklahoma football game. The student wrote in his journal that he should "buy a ticket that is higher than the excellent seats" because the police wouldn't bother him. On a scrap of paper found among his belongings, Aldawsari said an explosive could be hidden inside popcorn, Parker testified.
Also Tuesday, authorities showed videos they said they found on a flash drive in Aldawsari's apartment. One showed a masked man speaking in Arabic about the chemicals needed to create picric acid, an explosive. Other agents have testified that Aldawsari sought — and failed — to obtain phenol.
"Following these steps, you would get picric acid," FBI forensic examiner Robert Mothershead testified.
Authorities said Aldawsari also kept the recipe for picric acid in several emails and journal entries. In one entry, he said he was close to obtaining phenol and had obtained other necessary items, "so I may use them in missions to please God."
Federal agents secretly searched Aldawsari's apartment in Lubbock twice last year and say they found almost everything needed to build a bomb, including chemicals, beakers, flasks, wiring, a hazmat suit and clocks, which he had bought online.
Agents say they also uncovered handwritten journals, recordings and online postings suggesting Aldawsari had long planned to launch an attack in the U.S.
Authorities say they were tipped to Aldawsari's online purchases by chemical company Carolina Biological Supply of Burlington, N.C., and shipping company Con-way Freight on Feb. 1, 2011. The chemical company reported a suspicious $435 purchase to the FBI, and the shipping company notified Lubbock police and the FBI because it appeared the order wasn't intended for commercial use.
Court documents say Aldawsari wrote in Arabic in his journal that he had been planning a terror attack in the U.S. even before he came to the country on a scholarship, and that it was "time for jihad," or holy war.