A Kansas man was arrested on Friday for apparently plotting a suicide bombing at the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. Reports said the man wanted to detonate a car bomb.
The man–identified as Terry L. Loewen–allegedly wanted to set off the bomb, and got bomb parts from FBI informants. Undercover FBI agents dealt with the suspect and he was under constant surveillance the whole time.
Loewen, 58, was identified as a avionics tech expert, who lives in Wichita. He had a security access card for the airport, said Barry Grissom, the U.S. Attorney, in a press conference.
Loewen was charged with a count each of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property and attempting to provide support to the terrorist group al-Qaeda, The Associated Press reported.
Investigators told AP he was under investigation for around six months when he made statements about wanting to commit “violent jihad” against the United States.
Loewen was described as a white male who self-radicalized himself by reading Islamist literature online, NBC reported.
He wanted to trigger a bomb blast and “die in the explosion as a martyr,” Grissom said.
According to a complaint, Loewen “has engaged in an online conversation with an individual who unbeknownst to him is an FBI employee.”
Grissom said he wanted to drive a car filled with explosives to the Wichita Airport when he knew there were a lot of people there. He drove his car to the airport’s tarmac and was then arrested.
The explosives turned out to be inert as they were provided to him by the FBI, which stressed that “at no time was the public at risk.”
He “spent months developing a plan to use his access card to the airport to drive a carload of explosives to the terminal,” officials said. He also apparently researched flight schedules to see when a maximum number of people would be at the airport.
The FBI also added that he was trying to provide “terrorist support” to an overseas organization.
Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams said the case was “a major situation for our city that was averted” via law enforcement cooperation, reported the Kansas City Star.
At the airport on Friday, police and federal authorities with dogs were spotted combing over the area.
“Today’s arrest emphasizes that homegrown terrorism is a continuing threat in the United States,” FBI official Michael Kaste said at the conference.