A 20-year-old Saudi Arabian student living in Texas has been arrested by federal agents, who charged him with planning to build bombs for terror attacks in the United States, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
According to an affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the student, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, indicated in online research and in a journal that he was considering attacking the Dallas residence of former President George W. Bush as well as hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, nightclubs and the homes of soldiers who were formerly stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Mr. Aldawsari, a business major at South Plains College in Lubbock, Tex., is in the United States legally on a student visa, the bureau said. He came to the government’s attention on Feb. 1, when a North Carolina supply company reported that he had tried to order five liters of a chemical that can be used to make an explosive.
A subsequent investigation found that he had already obtained large supplies of the other two chemicals needed for the explosive compound — trinitrophenol or TNP — in December, court documents said.
“Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States,” said David Kris, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s national security division. “Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further.”
There was no indication on Thursday that investigators had found links between Mr. Aldawsari and Al Qaeda or some other foreign militant group. According to the affidavit, he wrote in his journal that he wanted to found a new terrorist group modeled after Al Qaeda, which he would lead, and he indicated that he had been methodically planning for years to commit a terrorist attack.
“I excelled in my studies in high school in order to take advantage of an opportunity for a scholarship to America” that was offered by the Saudi Arabian government, investigators said he wrote. “And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives, and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”
The journal was also said to list “important steps” toward his goal, including obtaining a forged United States birth certificate, applying for a passport and driver’s license, renting cars online, putting bombs in them and taking them to various sites during rush hours, and then leaving the city for a “safe place.”
The affidavit says that in his journal, Mr. Aldawsari said he was inspired by the speeches of Osama Bin Laden and wrote that the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had produced a “big change” in his thinking. It also contends that he was the writer of a blog called FromFarAway90, published in a mix of English and Arabic.
The Arabic posts on that blog speak at times about war and distress in Palestine and other Muslim lands and about driving infidels out of the Islamic world, and they ask that Allah make the writer a martyr. It is not clear whether Mr. Aldawsari wrote the posts or copied material from elsewhere.
The affidavit also said Mr. Aldawsari, using several e-mail accounts, often sent research to himself about potential targets and explosives. The authorities retrieved several e-mails about manufacturing TNP and other explosives and about how to convert a cellphone into a remote detonator.
Other e-mails — with subject lines like “Nice targets” — contained the names and addresses of three Americans who had been stationed at Abu Ghraib during their military service in Iraq and the locations of 12 reservoirs and dams in Colorado and California. An e-mail entitled “Tyrant’s House” listed the address for Mr. Bush’s house in Dallas.
Mr. Aldawsari also made “numerous Internet searches” related to realistic-looking baby dolls and strollers and viewed photographs of altered dolls, which the F.B.I. said “could indicate” that he was considering concealing explosives in such a doll.
The search of his apartment, the affidavit said, also found flasks and chemical lab equipment, a gas mask, a protective suit and Christmas light wiring that it said was suitable for producing a bomb.