A worker at the Wichita Kansas airport, after planning a suicide bomb plot in a commercial airport terminal, was ordered to be jailed by a federal judge who felt the man posed a threat to the public.
Terry Lee Loewen was determined to be a flight risk by U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Humphreys. When announcing her decision, Humphreys said the government’s evidence was convincing and in some respects overwhelming because of Loewen’s own words during online and in-person conversations with undercover FBI agents.
Prosecutors say Loewen, 58, planned a suicide bomb plot that was intended to inflict “maximum carnage” and would have killed and injured hundreds of people. He is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of an explosive device to damage property and attempted material support to al-Qaida.
Evidence was presented by prosecutors was a letter FBI agents found at Loewen’s residence, which revealed he was expected to be a martyr for Allah. That he believed in the holy war for the sake of Allah.
“Loewen worked at the Hawker Beechcraft Services facility at Mid-Continent Airport, and is believed to have spent months developing a plan to use his airport access card to drive a van loaded with explosives to the terminal. He planned to pull the trigger on the explosives himself and die in the explosion,” U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.
The explosives were fake, Grissom said. FBI Agents planted fake explosives to catch him in the act. Loewen has been under investigation by the Wichita Joint Terrorism Task Force since early summer.
Apparently Loewen had been casing the airport for months including flight schedules and layout. “The threat was real,” said Michael Kaste of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. “But I assure you, the public was never at any risk at all.”
In a 21-page complaint filed in federal court, documents found that Loewen engaged in an online conversation with an undercover FBI agent to reflect his “desire to engage in violent jihad on behalf of al Qaeda.”
In a letter to family members dated December 11, 2013, Loewen said,
“By the time you read this I will – if everything went as planned – have been martyred in the path of Allah. There will have been an event at the airport, which I am responsible for. The operation was timed to cause maximum carnage + death. My only explanation is that I believe in jihad for that sake of Allah + for the sake of my Muslim brothers +sisters. Fact is, most Muslims in this country will condemn what I have done. I expect to be called a terrorist (which I am), a psychopath, and a homicidal maniac.”
If Loewen is convicted, he could face life in prison.
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