Terry Loewen is pictured in this Sedgwick County Sheriff's
Office photo in Wichita, Kansas. REUTERS/Sedgwick County
Authorities say they foiled a suicide bombing plot to
blow up the Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kansas, arresting
a man who proclaimed himself Muslim and had talked of
committing "violent jihad on behalf of al Qaeda."
Terry Loewen, a 58-year-old aviation technician from Wichita,
was taken into custody on Friday morning (local time) as he
attempted to enter the airport tarmac with a vehicle loaded
with what authorities said he believed were explosives. He
planned to trigger the explosives and die in the explosion,
Loewen has been under investigation by the Wichita Joint
Terrorism Task Force since early summer and had been working
on the bomb plot with individuals he thought were
accomplices. But they were actually undercover FBI agents,
according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in
Loewen thought one of the undercover agents was a member of
"AQAP," a Yemen-based terrorist group that has claimed
responsibility for several terrorist acts against the United
States, according to the criminal complaint. That agent
helped Loewen with the construction of the device, which
officials said, unknown to Loewen, was not active.
"It was not a bomb that would ever explode," said Barry
Grissom, US attorney for the District of Kansas. "At no time
was the airport perimeter breached and at no time was any
citizen or member of the traveling public in danger."
Officials refused to provide details on the materials in the
Authorities said Loewen had made statements prior to the
attempted attack that he was resolved to commit an act of
violence that would kill as many people as possible.
Loewen provided one undercover FBI agent with research he had
conducted on the best time to execute the attack based on the
number of people who would be boarding aircraft and the
number of people who would be in the terminal, the criminal
Loewen was charged in federal court with one count of
attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of
attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and
one count of attempting to provide material support to a
designated foreign terrorist organization.
Loewen left a letter dated Dec. 11, 2013 for a family member
describing his intent to conduct a martyrdom operation,
according to the criminal complaint. Part of the letter
reads: "By the time you read this I will - if everything went
as planned- have been martyred in the path of Allah... The
operation was timed to cause maximum carnage + death. My only
explanation is that I believe in jihad for the sake of Allah
+ for the sake of my Muslim brothers + sisters."
Officials said they were continuing their investigation, but
no further arrests were expected.
"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," US Sen. Jerry
Moran, a Kansas Republican, said in a statement.
The arrest comes a month after a man attacked security
workers at Los Angeles International Airport on Nov. 1,
killing one Transportation Security Administration agent and
wounding two others before police wounded him and took him
In October, Jacksonville International Airport in Florida was
evacuated for five hours after a man made a false bomb
threat. A trucking company worker was arrested and charged
with telling a TSA agent he had a bomb in a backpack.
In February 2012, authorities arrested a Moroccan man near
the US Capitol wearing a vest he believed was full of al
The man, who like Loewen was the object of a lengthy
undercover FBI investigation, was charged with the attempted
suicide bombing of Congress and faces up to life in prison if