February 24th, 2011

BREAKING: Saudi citizen arrested on terror charges in Texas

From Jeanne Meserve and Mike M. Ahlers

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A Saudi national living in Texas was arrested Wednesday allegedly after he acquired chemicals to make a bomb and researched several possible targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, and nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams.

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, of Lubbock, Texas, was arrested 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, according to the Justice Department.

Aldawsari is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock Friday morning, the Department of Justice said.

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, officials said.

EMBEDDABLE VIDEO: Terror Arrest in Texas

The transcript of Jeanne Meserve’s report at 10:40am ET is after the jump.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We’ve got breaking news. Apparently some terrorist arrests have been made in Texas. Our Jeanne

Meserve working this story for us. Jeanne, what have you found out?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, a single arrest of an individual in Lubbock, Texas. He’s a Saudi national. His name is Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari. Twenty years old. He was in this country legally, I’m told, by a law enforcement source on a student visa, but he was researching and then acquiring ingredients to create explosives. And according to law enforcement, he allegedly planned to target the home of former President George W. Bush, hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants. A law enforcement source also said he was interested in trying to strike soldiers who had served in Abu Ghraib.

This was not a sting operation, I’m told by law enforcement sources. This was an individual who had researched how to make explosives. He was in the process of trying to acquire them, according to this law enforcement source. He needed three ingredients. He had obtained two of them. The third was something a little bit more rare.

What the law enforcement source tells me is he tried to acquire it from a company in North Carolina. That company became suspicious about why the individual wanted it; they tipped off the FBI. And an investigation has been going on for the last couple of weeks which culminated in this individual’s arrest yesterday.  They do believe he was acting alone. At this point in time, there is no indication he was working with any terrorist group stationed overseas. Back to you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Got it. Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve there with that breaking news out of D.C. We will follow that story coming out of Texas. Jeanne, thanks so much.