A man plotted a suicide bombing at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport, authorities said Friday afternoon.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced Friday the arrest of Terry Loewen. He said the 58-year-old man planned to kill himself in the car bombing as part of a "violent jihad against the United States."
The suspect went to great lengths to research the airport and its access points as well as flights to find when the airport would be most packed with passengers. Loewen was employed as an avionics technician for an aeronautics company, and had a security pass giving him access to the tarmac.
Loewen 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 the terrorist group al-Qaida. Authorities said he was trying to support "al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula."
Loewen was arrested about 5:40 a.m. Friday when he attempted to drive a vehicle onto the tarmac, Grissom said. He said Loewen believed that the vehicle was loaded with "high explosives," but they were inert.
Sources told KCTV5 that the man actually got the explosives from an undercover federal agent.
Court records indicate that Loewen early Friday did wiring to make the bomb operational. He tried twice to gain access to the tarmac at the airport but his access had been disabled.
Loewen allegedly left his sister a letter dated Dec. 11, according to court records.
"By the time you read this, I will -- if everything went as planned -- have been martyred in the path of Allah," he wrote. "There will have been an event at the airport, which I am responsible for. The operation was timed to cause maximum carnage and death."
He said the "only explanation" was he believes in jihad "for the sake of Allah and the sake of my Muslim brothers and sisters."
He said he knew his name would be notorious.
"I expect to be called a terrorist (which I am), a psychopath and a homicidal maniac," he wrote.
Loewen frequently expressed admiration for Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born al-Qaida leader who was killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen, according to the court documents.
Al-Awlaki emerged as an influential preacher among militants living in the West, with his English language Internet sermons calling for a holy war against the U.S.
FBI agents began investigating Loewen after he made comments in chat rooms that caught the attention of agents who began to communicate with him.
The investigation continues, but Grissom doesn't anticipate any additional arrests.
Elected leaders issued statements about the arrest.
"In our ongoing war on terrorism, the good guys won one today," said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. "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. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, and U.S. Sen. Jim Moran, a Republican from Kansas, both thanked law enforcement for their efforts.
"Today's arrest is a warning to us all that we must remain vigilant against those who wish to do us harm," Roberts said. "This vigilance is ever present in those that serve our nation in law enforcement at all levels of government and I am especially grateful for their diligence and hard work to keep Americans safe."
Moran issued the following statement.
"We are grateful for the law enforcement officials who kept individuals, including many Kansans, safe today. 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."
Local, state and federal authorities including Kansas City FBI agents investigated. The investigation was launched in early summer 2013.
Click here to read the signed complaint against Loewen.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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