Terry Lee Loewen, a 58-year-old man from Wichita, Kansas, has been arrested for allegedly trying to blow up a car bomb at the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, reports The Wichita Eagle. Loewen was the subject of an almost year-long sting on the part of the FBI to get him, an already vocal advocate for violent jihad, to attempt to commit an act of terrorism.
Here’s what we know about Loewen and his alleged crime. Stay tuned for details on this breaking story.
1. Loewen Was Arrested at 5:40 a.m. Local Time
Friday morning Loewen was arrested by FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents while he was trying to enter the airport’s tarmac with a vehicle he allegedly believed contained explosives.
According to the complaint, Loewen is an avionics technician who had credentials to enter the airport grounds.
2. He Is a Self-Proclaimed ‘Jihadist’
According to the criminal complaint (read full document below), he wanted to martyr himself and “commit an act of violent jihad.” Above you can read the final letter Loewen left for a family member on December 11.
The FBI has been tracking the suspect since early 2013 and, around August 2013, Loewen expressed “his desire to engage in violent jihad on behalf of al Qaeda.” That is when undercover FBI agents began talking to him online in an effort to implicate him in terrorist activity.
3. He Sent Money to Extremist Muslim Sects Called Osama bin Laden a ‘Brother’
On August 8, Loewen wrote to an undercover FBI agent about his affection for bin Laden and radical Muslim cleric Anwar al Awlaki, saying:
Brothers like Osama bin Laden and Anwar al Awlaki are a great inspiration to me, but I must be willing to give up everything (like they did) to truly feel like an obedient slave of Allah (swt). You stated you might be able to put me in contact with someone that might be able to help.
On August 21, he told an agent that he would be willing to “help” with Jihad and that he had been sending money to the family of Younis Abdullah Muhammad, the operator of the radical and traditionalist New York-based Islamic website RevolutionMuslim.com as well as donating directly to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula:
I have considered supporting some of our brothers and sisters in prison, and have been sending money to the family of Younnus Abdullah Muhammad, one of the founder [sic] of the Revolutionary Muslim Website, which is the first website that really helped me understand what obedience to Allah(swt) was. He is doing eleven and a half years over the whole South Park fiasco; isn’t democracy great? I still need to do more however. If by chance you know someone who is active in jihad and could use an occasional influx of “help,” please let me know.
4. He’s Charged With Trying to Use a Weapon of Mass Destruction
Along with the charge of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction, Loewen is also charged with one count of attempting to damage property, and one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
5. He Allegedly Spent Months Planning the Attack
According to the FBI, Loewen spent months communicating with FBI undercover agents while studying flight schedule, gathering components to build the bomb, and studying airport layout. He writes, in his own words, in the letter he leaves for his family, that the “operation was timed to cause maximum carnage + death.”