Con-way Freight helps FBI arrest terror suspect
Less-than-truckload carrier Con-way Freight played a major role in Thursday's arrest of a Saudi national charged with attempting to make an improved explosive device for use against high-value targets in the United States, according to the criminal affidavit filed in a North Texas court.
Suspect Khalid Aldawsari wrote in a notebook found in his apartment that he came to the United States with the intent of carrying out a terrorist attack against 'infidels,' having been inspired by the events of 9/11. He also wrote on a blog about his desire to achieve martyrdom.
Officials at the Con-way terminal in Lubbock, Texas, became suspicious when they received a call from Aldawsari on Jan. 30 informing them of an incoming package and asking that it be held until he could pick it up, the FBI said in the complaint.
Aldawsari, who was studying at South Plains College on a student visa after a stint at Texas Tech University, had ordered the toxic chemical phenol from Carolina Biological Supply through the company's Web site. The shipment was sent via Federal Express to Con-way's facility. Company officials notified Lubbock police, who in turn alerted the FBI. Law enforcement officers visited the terminal to examine the shipment.
Carolina Biological officials and an FBI undercover office subsequently contacted Aldawsari asking him why he wanted the phenol. The suspect said he was conducting university research, expressed anger with the questioning and canceled the order.
In December, Aldawsari bought nitric acid from QualiChem Technologies in Roswell, Ga., but was instructed that hazardous materials were not permitted by regulations to be delivered to an apartment. Aldawsari instead provided the address of a nearby FedEx Kinkos location and the shipment was sent via Con-way Freight. The alleged bomber picked up the package at the Con-way terminal. He also placed an order in December on Amazon.com for three gallons of concentrated sulfuric acid.
Aldawsari conducted online research on how to construct a plastic explosive, according to court documents. A search of his apartment turned up a gas mask, lab equipment, a hazardous material suit, a stun gun, and a battery tester, among other items.
Among the targets he listed in e-mail communication to himself were three American citizens who had previously served in the U.S. military and had been stationed for a portion of their military service at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where U.S. soldiers engaged in torture. He also had his eye on hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants and the Dallas address of former President George W. Bush.
In a statement, Con-way said, 'Based on training and experience, Con-way's local management immediately flagged the shipment as suspicious, and notified Con-way's corporate security department. The shipment matched profiles outlined in Con-way's security protocols for identifying shipments of a suspicious nature, and which appeared for use not consistent with known commercial application of the product.'
The Department of Homeland Security officials have frequently said the private sector has the best expertise to identify potential threats because it can tell when something doesn't square with normal business practices.
DHS has been pushing its 'If You See Something, Say Something' campaign, which is designed to engage the public and employees to identify and reporter indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to transportation and law enforcement authorities. ' Eric Kulisch