A 58 year old man was arrested early Friday morning at the Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kansas. The suspect, Terry Lee Loewen, believed he was about to die as a suicide bomber. He planned to detonate what he believed were live explosives in the car he was driving at the Wichita airport. He was doing this in order to “assist a foreign terrorist organization,” as charged in the criminal complaint filed against him, according to U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom and Special Agent in Charge Michael Kaste of the FBI office in Kansas City.
Loewen worked at the airport as an avionics technician. He was arrested without incident at approximately 5:40 a.m. Kansas time, as he was about to enter the tarmac Friday morning, using his employee access card. At the time of his arrest, Loewen believed he was going to detonate explosives in his car. He planned to die “as a martyr” in the explosion.
The explosives in Loewen’s car, however, were “inert.”
During the six months when Loewen was under surveillance, the suspect studied maps and photographs of the airport. He also researched flight schedules in an attempt to ensure that his planned bombing would inflict harm to the greatest number of passengers.
U.S. Attorney Grissom read the charges filed Friday morning against Loewen at a mid-day press conference in Wichita. Terry Lee Loewen was charged with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property with an explosion, and one count of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
According to several reports, the foreign terrorist organization which Loewen was assisting is Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP is based in Yemen.
In FBI-recorded conversations, Loewen said,
I have been studying subjects like jihad, martyrdom operations and Sharia law. I don’t understand how you can read the Qu’ran and the Sunnah of the Prophet and not understand that jihad and the implementation of Sharia is absolutely demanded of all the Muslim Ummah.
AQAP is a Sunni Muslim terrorist group. Its former leader, Anwar Al-Awlaki, a US-Yemini national, was killed in September, 2011. Loewen mentioned both Awlaki and Osama bin Laden as inspirations for him.
AQAP is responsible for the online jihadist magazine Inspire, which Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects, is believed to have followed.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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