A would-be bomber was stopped at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport Friday morning. He had been planning an alleged suicide bombing attack for many months.
The 58-year-old man, from Wichita, was an employee of an aeronautics company. Terry Loewen was arrested at a gate to the tarmac of the airport. Loewen tried to use his badge to open the gate, but the system had been disabled.
It was the end of a long sting operation conducted by undercover FBI agents.
The italicized text below is from the criminal complaint against Loewen provided by the U.S. Attorney's office.
The communications are with an undercover FBI agent. The first entry is from August; the last is from a post just few days ago.
"As time goes on I care less and less about what other people think of me, or my views of Islam," Loewen said. "I have been studying subjects like jihad, martyrdom operations and Sharia law. I don't understand how you can read the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet and not understand that jihad and the implementation of Sharia is absolutely demanded of all the Muslim Ummah."
An online conversation began between Loewen and FBI employee #1. FBI #1 offered to help Loewen find someone to help him engage in violent jihad.
"Brothers like Osama bin Laden and Anwar al Awlaki are a great inspiration to me, but I must be willing to give up everything (like they did) to truly feel like an obedient slave of Allah," Loewen said. "You stated you might be able to put me in contact with someone that might be able to help - not sure what that means. I in no way want to put you or any other brother in harms way- and that is a great concern of mine, so please be careful. Today I printed out something called the AI Qaeda Manual."
Loewen told FBI employee #1 that he could provide a tour of the airport. It is not clear who initiated the idea.
"Let me preface the bottom line by saying I have become 'radicalized' in the strongest sense of the word," Loewen said. "I don't feel Allah wants me any other way- I MUST be active in some kind of (dare I say it) jihad to feel I'm doing something proactive for the Ummah- giving money to those who fight for the Tawheed is one that I am definitely interested in, but direct jihad against a civilian target is not out of the question. Point being, is my having access to airport property the primary reason for the tour- if the answer is 'no' then I will not bring it up again."
"I guess I look at myself as the 'access' guy at this point- just need more details," Loewen continued. "If any exist at this point- are we talking explosives, because I know nothing about that? It's all very surreal at the point, exciting yet sorry."
Loewen stated that he could get access to the tarmac, which leads to the airliners and control tower, but not until January. He apologized for asking questions before the operation was in the planning phase.
"I believe the potential for me doing more is staggering," Loewen said. "I have some rough ideas, but I know nothing about explosives. Don't you think with my access to the airport that I should put that to good use? I'm sure I am not as ready as I think I am, but by next year- who knows. Understand I have NO experience in things like this, but I'm willing to learn...Anyway, I'm just talking right now but I still feel I'm being led in this direction."
As time went by, Loewen appears to hesitate. He says he was moving too fast. Loewen wanted to stick with just giving money donations to needy Muslims for a while.
"Reading about the actions of the muhajideen and actually carrying them out is two different things," Loewen said. "If not for my family, I would have already carried out some sort of operation- but that's my fault for putting others before Allah which I know better than to do."
He sent pictures to FBI employee #1. They were pictures of some fighter jets who had apparently stopped at the airport for fuel.
"It would have been possible today for me to have walked over there, shot both pilots (I don't know if they are armed or not), slapped some C4 on both fuel trucks and set them off before anyone even called TSA," Loewen said. "Talk's REAL cheap, however, so what I think I can do and what I actually can do are probably two different things. Next year I intend to get a ramp pass so I can drive my vehicle on the ramp. I have the access, but unless someone thinks I'm teachable, that's about all have to offer- but don't get me wrong; I certainly have the desire to learn how to perform an operation like this. I just haven't been given the "green light" by Allah yet- at least not that I'm aware of.
"I trust you but part of me wants to trust ANYBODY who says they believe what I do because those kind of people are SO rare, and I thirst for that," Loewen continued. "I'm sorry I can't say I trust you 100%; my greatest fear is not being able to complete an operation because I was set up. I hate this government so much for what they have done to our brothers and sisters, that to spend the rest of my life in prison without having taken a good slice out of the serpents head is unacceptable to me. Am I only involved as far as 'prepping' for this is concerned, and just watching the rest unfold? And is it a martyrdom operation?; if so am I going to be part of that? I'm asking for a week to give myself time to process all this an give you an answer."
Loewen met undercover agent FBI employee # 2 in late October. He told him that he wanted to help him with his mission to blow up a plane with numerous people on board.
They discussed doing the mission using the code words "rental property" just prior to Christmas, which would cause the greatest impact physically and economically.
Loewen agreed to purchase a component that would be used to detonate the explosive. He also said that he could wire the explosives because wiring is part of what he does for his job.
On December 6, Loewen renewed his badge, which gave him access to the tarmac.
"As far as things I would not want to engage in; you have said they are looking at a time close to the holidays; I can't see myself doing anything that involves killing children, unless I know everything is being done to minimize that," Loewen said. "I understand it's a war, and some of these brothers may have had their children killed by this country, but in light of what the Prophet (saw) said concerning (sic) this, I just need to be sure it can be kept to an absolute minimum."
Early on December 13, FBI employee #2 picked up Loewen as he finished wiring the device. The two drove to the airport. One last letter was dated December 11:
"By the time you read this I will- if everything went as planned- have been martyred in the path of Allah," Loewen said. "There will have been an event at the airport which I am responsible for. The operation was timed to cause maximum carnage and death. My only explanation is that I believe in jihad for the sake of Allah and for the sake of my Muslim brothers and sisters. Fact is, most Muslims in this country will condemn what I have done. I expect to be called a terrorist (which I am), a psychopath, and a homicidal maniac."
Loewen is charged with three counts, including an attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide support to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.