FBI: Worker Planned Suicide Bombing of Wichita Airport

Technician, 58, arrested in vehicle with (fake) explosives

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 13, 2013 1:44 PM CST
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(Newser) – An FBI sting has resulted in the arrest of an airport worker in Wichita who authorities say intended to blow up his place of employment—the Mid-Continent Regional Airport. A suspect identified as 58-year-old Terry Lee Loewen was arrested this morning at the airport inside a vehicle he thought was full of explosives, reports the Wichita Eagle. US Attorney Barry Grissom said Loewen, an alleged al-Qaeda supporter, had been under surveillance for months. Federal authorities supplied him with the fake explosives, and they say Loewen planned to drive the vehicle into an airport terminal in a suicide attack. It was timed to take place near Christmas to make it especially devastating, they say.

The AP reports that Loewen is an "avionics technician" who came to the attention of the FBI after making pro-jihad and anti-American statements online. He also professed admiration for the late Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born al-Qaeda leader. At one point, according to court documents, an undercover agent suggested that Loewen place a bomb at the airport, and the suspect wrote back, "Wow! That's some heavy stuff you just laid down. Am I interested? Yes. I still need time to think about it, but I can't imagine anything short of arrest stopping me."

The FBI had been watching the suspect since earlier this year.
The FBI had been watching the suspect since earlier this year.   (Shutterstock)
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