News: Potential New York Terrorist Arrested
(Long Island, N.Y.) A twenty-year-old college student was arrested last week for attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. He was living in Lubbock, Texas and had previously attended Texas Tech for chemical engineering. Some of his targets were former president George W. Bush’s Dallas home and undisclosed areas of New York City.
A native to Saudi Arabia, he received a student visa along with a scholarship, and has been in the country since ’08. An industrial corporation in Saudi Arabia allegedly paid for his tuition and living expenses. Police findings suggest that he had been planning anti-American acts prior to his entrance into the country.
His hatred for America went back as far as his teenage years. Since the 9/11 attacks he had been motivated to take criminal action against American targets after being influenced by speeches from Osama bin Laden. Though he did not appear outwardly religious, his plot was to learn English and skills with chemical explosives before unleashing a jihad on American soil.
The plan he hatched for New York City involved planting explosives in a series of rental cars, which he’d rent under a variety of names using a forged birth certificate and different licenses. They’d explode during rush hour, causing the most damage. He also intended on blowing up hydroelectric dams, a nightclub, and nuclear power plants, with plans that were similar to those of the Time’s Square Bomber.
He purchased the chemical materials on the Internet, where he researched how to assemble explosives; reports stated that his apartment was equipped with a makeshift laboratory and Hazmat suit. He lived above an Army Career Center, and like the Time’s Square Bomber, planned to target soldiers who had worked in an Iraqi prison camp. Though his lawyer stated he would plead not guilty for his March 11th detention hearing, he could face life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
The amount of explosives he purchased was the equivalent of about fifteen pounds, which is enough to create the same kind of damage caused by the ’05 London Subway attack. Some reports stated that he was equipped with the skills to turn a cell phone into a remote detonator for the bombs, and that he had purchased a stun-gun and battery tester. He also had access to traffic cameras, allowing him to view and select city locations.
The heroes in this story are workers of the chemical supply company which sold him the items and the shipping company which distributed what was purchased. They reported to federal authorities that the $465 he spent in chemicals seemed suspicious, and that he did not seem to be using the items for commercial reasons. It took the FBI just weeks to trace his online purchases and uncover incriminating evidence from his diary and emails once they had discovered online posts he made that were radical in nature.
The diaries revealed that he enjoyed violent video games and dabbled in poetry. They also confessed his attraction to a woman who had helped him learn English. He learned the language in an English as a Second Language program at Vanderbilt University.
This case has Americans wondering if foreign access to visas is granted too easily. Fifteen out of the nineteen terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks also received visas in Saudi Arabia. This case illustrates the difficulties of discerning who comes here for education from those who intend on doing harm. Though stricter action against the distribution of visas may offend certain interest groups, many feel that the cost of American lives is too great to compromise.