A Kansas man was arrested today after trying to take what he thought was a bomb onto the tarmac of Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
Terry Lee Loewen, a 58-year-old avionics technician from Wichita, planned to use his access card to conduct a suicide bombing at the airport, government officials said.
There was no danger to the public because the supposed explosives were inert and the man was accompanied by an undercover FBI employee, government officials said. Loewen had been under investigation by the FBI since earlier this year, prosecutors said in papers filed in federal court in Wichita.
Loewen was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against people and property, attempting to use an explosive to destroy property, and trying to provide material support to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
No additional arrests are expected, federal officials said. Loewen would face as much as life in prison if convicted.
“Lone wolves -- home grown violent extremists -- remain a very serious threat to our nation’s security,” Michael Kaste, the FBI agent in charge of the Wichita bureau, said in a statement.
The complaint said Loewen left a letter dated Dec. 11 that said, “By the time you read this I will -- if everything went as planned -- have been martyred in the path of Allah.” It said he added, “I expect to be called a terrorist (which I am), a psychopath and a homicidal maniac.”
Federal officials said Loewen spent months preparing for an attack and communicating over the Internet with a person he didn’t realize was an FBI employee.
In September, he sent an e-mail apologizing to the FBI employee for allowing a relative to try to fix a problem with his computer and said the relative didn’t see any of their conversations, the complaint said.
In October, the complaint said, the FBI official asked if Loewen would be willing to plant “some type of device.”
“Am I interested? Yes,” Loewen responded, according to the complaint. “I still need time to think about it, but I can’t imagine anything short of arrest stopping me.”
Loewen said he wanted to kill as many people as possible, and he explained where to park a vehicle full of explosives to accomplish that, the complaint said. He provided components to make a bomb and worked with a second undercover FBI employee to assemble it, it said.
Loewen was arrested today while trying to get into a security gate at the airport, the complaint said.
The single-terminal airport with 11 gates is the largest in Kansas, according to the facility’s website.
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