The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

National News

December 13, 2013

Man arrested in car bomb plot at Kansas airport

WICHITA, Kan. — An avionics technician from Kansas was arrested Friday as he planned to drive a vehicle full of explosives into a terminal at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Regional Airport, authorities said.

Terry Lee Loewen, 58, was charged with one count each of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property and attempting to provide support to terrorist group al-Qaida. Authorities said he was trying to support “al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.”

The materials inside the vehicle were “inert” and “at no time was the safety of travelers or members of the public placed in jeopardy,” U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

Investigators said Loewen is an avionics technician who lives in Wichita and works at the airport. He had been under investigation for about six months, after he made online statements about wanting to commit “violent jihad” against the U.S. The statements were made in a conversation with an FBI employee unbeknownst to Loewen, Grissom said.

Authorities said they believe Loewen acted alone. No other arrests are expected.

According to court documents, Loewen talked to an undercover agent about downloading online documents about jihad, martyrdom and the “Al Qaeda Manual.” He frequently expressed his admiration of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born al-Qaida leader who was killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. Al-Awlaki emerged as an influential preacher among militants living in the West, with his English language Internet sermons calling for jihad, or holy war, against the U.S.

Authorities said Loewen spent months studying the airport’s layout, flight patterns and other details to maximize fatalities and damage. During that time, he developed a plan along with undercover FBI agents to use his access card to airport grounds and eventually thrust the vehicle loaded with explosives into the terminal.

He planned to die in the explosion, a fate that he said was inevitable after convincing himself to become a martyr in a jihad against America, according to court documents.

He was arrested about 5:40 a.m. as tried to enter the airport tarmac and deliver a vehicle loaded with what he believed to be high explosives, Grissom said.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback joined the U.S. attorney at the news conference to announce the charges.

“In the ongoing war on terrorism, the good guys won one today,” Brownback said.

Wichita Mid-Continent Airport had 68 scheduled commercial flights on Friday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Salmonella decline seen in food poisoning report

    The government’s latest report card on food poisoning shows a dip in salmonella cases but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw shellfish.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge in gay marriage case asks pointed questions

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    April 17, 2014

  • Obama shows skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn’t make good on its commitments.

    April 17, 2014

  • Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

    Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target’s computer systems last December.

    April 17, 2014

  • Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies

    As political campaigns begin to heat up, the Supreme Court is deciding whether false accusations and mudslinging made during an election can be punished as a crime.

    April 16, 2014

  • Auto Show Nissan Hot _Cast.jpg Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

    With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the U.S. auto industry.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Transportation Blues 2.jpg Congress is giving states the transportation blues

    On the road in a tour bus this week, the U.S. transportation secretary is spreading some bad news: the government’s Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Report: Russia withheld intel before Boston attack

    A yearlong review of information the U.S. intelligence community had prior to the Boston Marathon bombing found that the investigation could have been more thorough.

    April 11, 2014

  • Obama Health Secretary.jpg Obama announces Sebelius resignation, successor

    President Barack Obama praised outgoing Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for helping to steer his health care law’s comeback after a rocky rollout, even as he nominated a successor aimed at helping the White House move past the political damage.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police seek driver in deadly Florida day care crash

    As mourners trickled by Thursday to honor the 4-year-old girl who was killed and 14 others injured in a crash at a Florida day care, authorities scoured the state for the driver they said fled in the vehicle that caused the fatal wreck.

    April 10, 2014