The suspect, Terry Lee Loewen, an avionics technician who lives in Wichita, was arrested earlier in the day as he attempted to use his security pass to drive a vehicle that he thought contained explosives onto the tarmac at the airport, law enforcement officials said at a news conference in Wichita. In fact, the car contained only dummy explosives.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Loewen spent months developing a plan to drive a carload of explosives to the airport terminal and that he was determined to trigger the bomb himself and die in the blast.
Loewen, who is white, became radicalized after reading extremist Islamic material on the Internet, Grissom said.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Wichita charges Loewen with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He was scheduled to be arraigned at 3 p.m. local time.
If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Investigators tell NBC News that Loewen has been under scrutiny since August, when he began having an online exchange with someone he thought was a like-minded individual but who turned out to be an FBI employee.
We get the usual assurance: “the suspect was under constant surveillance and at no time was the public in danger”—which is all too believable.
We are told there was no one else involved in the plot. Since Loewen was not already a demolition expert, but just a radicalized avionics technician, we know he had to have help. So it seems all of his co-conspirators all along the way were all FBI employees or snitches. He either was so trusting that he never checked the fake explosives or else he was not able to spot the difference between genuine and fake explosive material.
Some day the Feds are going to recruit and radicalize a target who gets away from them and figures out how to make a real bomb.