Both sides rest at Texas bomb plot trial
AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — The Saudi man accused of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction said he would get "maximum satisfaction" and be "smiling" after carrying out a terror attack against Americans, according to a recording played in court Tuesday.
Prosecutors capped three days of testimony with the recording of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a 22-year-old former Texas Tech student who faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Aldawsari's defense attorneys presented no evidence or witnesses before resting their case. They contend their client never took the "substantial step" necessary for the court to find him guilty and that he never made a bomb.
Aldawsari is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Prosecutors have also accused him of having a list of potential targets, including former President George W. Bush's home in Dallas. Closing arguments are set for 9 a.m. Wednesday in federal court in Amarillo.
The recording came during testimony by the last witness, Capt. David Parker, who is a computer forensics expert, a detective with the university's police department and a member of a joint terrorism task force.
Federal agents had placed microphones in Aldawsari's apartment, and say they captured him speaking out loud the night before his Feb. 23, 2011, arrest. Authorities said that Aldawsari was alone when he was recorded.
In the recording, Aldawsari is speaking as if he's someone else commenting on a terror attack carried out by himself. Aldawsari, still pretending to be someone else, says the perpetrator of the terror attack would be "smiling" and getting "maximum satisfaction" from having carried one out.
Americans deserved the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and must die "because you people deserve it" for causing the deaths of others, Aldawsari says in the recording.
"This is the ideology he follows," Aldawsari says on the recording, speaking about himself.
Parker also testified that Aldawsari had done Internet searches for former President George W. Bush's "farm"; locations where Bush would be signing copies of his book, "Decision Points"; and Bush's home, including an aerial photo of the North Dallas residence.
Parker said Aldawasari also searched for details on the October 2010 Texas vs. Oklahoma football game and allegedly wrote in his journal that "to buy a ticket that is higher than the excellent seats" because the police wouldn't bother him."
On a scrap of paper found amid Aldawsari's belongings days after his arrest, Parker said, was written that "to blow up a stadium explosive can be placed in popcorn."
During an FBI agent's testimony earlier Tuesday, authorities showed videos they said they found on a flash drive in Aldawsari's apartment. One showed a masked man speaking in Arabic about the chemicals needed to create picric acid, an explosive. Other agents have testified that Aldawsari sought — and failed — to obtain phenol.
"Following these steps, you would get picric acid," said Robert Mothershead, an FBI forensic examiner, in describing the video.
Authorities also shared some of Aldawsari's alleged writings. They said he kept the recipe for picric acid in several emails and journal entries. In one entry, Aldawsari said he was close to obtaining phenol and had gotten other necessary items, "so I may use them in missions to please God."
Federal agents secretly searched Aldawsari's apartment in Lubbock twice last year and say they found almost everything needed to build a bomb, including chemicals, beakers, flasks, wiring, a hazmat suit and clocks, which he had bought online.
Agents say they also uncovered handwritten journals, recordings and online postings suggesting Aldawsari had long planned to launch an attack in the U.S.
Authorities say they were tipped to Aldawsari's online purchases by chemical company Carolina Biological Supply of Burlington, N.C., and shipping company Con-way Freight on Feb. 1, 2011. The chemical company reported a suspicious $435 purchase to the FBI, and the shipping company notified Lubbock police and the FBI because it appeared the order wasn't intended for commercial use.
Court documents say Aldawsari wrote in Arabic in his journal that he had been planning a terror attack in the U.S. even before he came to the country on a scholarship, and that it was "time for jihad," or holy war.