Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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In this undated photo provided by the Sedgwick County, Kan., Clerk’s Office, a booking mugshot of Terry Lee Loewen is seen. The 58-year-old avionics technician who worked at the airport for aviation firm Hawker Beechcraft, was arrested before dawn Friday, Dec 13, 2013, as he tried to enter the tarmac on Wichita’s Mid-Continent Regional airport in Wichita, Kan., in a vehicle he believed was loaded with high explosives.
U.S. attorney Barry Grissom announces the arrest of Terry Lee Loewen, 58, of Wichita, Kansas., during a news conference . Grissom said Loewen was arrested Friday morning at Mid-Continent regional airport where he planned to drive a car that he believed was full of explosives into a terminal at the airport.
In August, an undercover agent offered to introduce Loewen to someone who could help him engage in jihad. A few days later, he mentioned providing a "tour" of the airport for one of the undercover agents.
In September, the undercover agent told Loewen he had returned from overseas after meeting with individuals connected with al-Qaida. The agent told him the "brothers" were excited to hear about his access to the airport and asked Loewen if he would be willing to plant some type of device, according to court documents.
"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," Loewen told the agent, adding that he needed to let Allah guide him.
The documents allege that he also asked for reassurances that he wasn't being set up, saying his greatest fear was not completing the operation.
The criminal complaint also details a meeting in November with other undercover agents in which they discussed executing the plan prior to Christmas in order to cause the greatest physical and economic damage. He also provided components from his employer that the agents requested to wire the fake explosive device, according to court documents.
On Wednesday, Loewen met with another undercover agent and helped assemble the false bomb, court documents allege.
Loewen was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property and attempting to provide support to terrorist group al-Qaida.
Hawker Beechcraft spokeswoman Nicole Alexander confirmed Friday that Loewen worked at the company's aircraft maintenance facility at the airport, but she said he has been suspended amid the investigation.
Loewen's neighbors said several law enforcement agencies converged early Friday morning at the modest brick home where Loewen and his wife live, just a few houses down from a local elementary school. Some neighbors said the couple mostly kept to themselves and didn't participate in neighborhood events.
Janine Hessman, who lives nearby, said she didn't know Loewen well but liked his wife and spoke to her often. But if the allegations are true, she said, "I don't really have any sympathy for him."