Monday, July 28, 2014

Feds nab Kansas man who plotted jihad, planned Wichita airport bomb

By The Herald Staff | 12/13/2013

WICHITA — A 58-year-old Wichita man who attempted to explode a car bomb at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport was arrested early Friday morning without incident, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

Terry Lee Loewen was charged Friday in U.S. District Court in Wichita with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, according to the criminal complaint.

WICHITA — A 58-year-old Wichita man who attempted to explode a car bomb at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport was arrested early Friday morning without incident, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

Terry Lee Loewen was charged Friday in U.S. District Court in Wichita with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, according to the criminal complaint.

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Loewen about 5:40 a.m. Friday after he attempted to enter the airport tarmac and deliver a vehicle loaded with what he believed were high explosives, according to the release. The device used by the defendant was inert and at no time posed a danger to the public, the release said.

“There was no breach of Mid-Continent Airport’s security,” Barry Grissom, U.S. attorney, said. “At no time was the safety of travelers or members of the public placed in jeopardy.”

Loewen, who works as an avionics technician, is alleged to have spent months developing a plan that involved using his access card to airport grounds to drive a van loaded with explosives to the terminal, the release said. He planned to pull the trigger on the explosives himself and die in the explosion, according to the release. Before his attempted attack, Loewen had made statements that he was resolved to commit an act of violent jihad against the United States, according to an affidavit that accompanied the charges.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Kansas Highway Patrol, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, Wichita Airport Police, Wichita Police Department and other law enforcement agencies collaborated in the six-month undercover investigation that led to Loewen’s arrest.

“I would like to thank the federal, state, and local agencies that collaborated in this investigation of a potential terrorist threat here in Kansas,” Gov. Sam Brownback said. “In our ongoing war on terrorism, the good guys won one today. A joint operation with federal, state and local components captured a would-be terrorist before he could cause harm. This is the way your government should work — united and effective.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said the arrest is a reminder of the need for the country to remain vigilant against possible acts of terrorism.

“We are grateful for the law enforcement officials who kept individuals, including many Kansans, safe today,” Moran said in a statement released by his office. “This incident is a reminder that we must remain vigilant and reaffirm our commitment to protecting this country and its ideals from those who wish to do us harm.”

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