Kansas Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Airport Bomb Plot

1 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Kansas Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Airport Bomb Plot.

Terry Loewen, who pleaded guilty to attempting to drive an explosive-laden vehicle and detonate it at an airport in Wichita, Kan., has been sentenced to 20 years in a federal prison.WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man’s odyssey into terrorism culminated when he tried to bring a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at the Wichita airport where he worked, an attack prosecutors say was aimed at causing “maximum carnage” during which Terry L. Loewen would die as a martyr. “I expect to be called a terrorist (which I am), a psychopath, and a homicidal maniac,” he wrote in a letter that investigators later found in his house.

Prosecutors asked for the 20 years, noting that they could have gone for a longer sentence but felt this would be appropriate given Loewen’s age. “Loewen was an avionics technician and had restricted access to secure airport areas. But prosecutors, during his sentencing hearing on Monday afternoon, cited Loewen’s age and health issues as reasons for recommending a 240-month sentence. During the hearing, defense attorney Tim Henry asked that Loewen be placed in the federal prison with the lowest security-level possible nearest to Wichita so he could continue to have visitors. His arrest in December 2013 was the culmination of a months-long sting operation in which two FBI agents posed as co-conspirators. “Here in the heartland, terrorism will never shake our faith in the things this country stands for — freedom, fairness and opportunity,” U.S.

He characterized Loewen as a “model inmate” during his stay at Sedgwick County Jail and said he did not need to be incarcerated in a maximum-security prison. “Terry and his wife, Debbi, have a very, very close relationship, and it is one that is at the center of Terry’s hope that … he’ll be placed as close as he can” to home, Henry told the judge. Loewen came to the attention of the FBI in late May 2013, when he became a Facebook friend of an individual who regularly posted information supporting violent jihad, or holy war, court documents show. Loewen’s case is among at least 462 terror crimes associated with groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State that the U.S. government has prosecuted since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to security issues. FBI agents, who helped devise the plot in an undercover sting operation, started monitoring Loewen after he befriended a someone on Facebook in May who routinely posted in support of radical or violent jihad. A 20-year prison term would be higher than the national average of 18 years for terrorism undercover operations, said Karen Greenberg, the director of the New York City-based center. “There is something about this case which really stands out, which is the suicide part of it.

We don’t see a lot of it,” she said, adding that more than a quarter of terrorism cases involve undercover stings similar to the one which ensnared Loewen. Ultimately, an undercover agent contacted Loewen online, and he “almost immediately … began expressing his desire to engage in violent jihad,” the documents say.

Court documents detail Loewen’s conversations with the undercover FBI agent in which he says he read numerous writings by American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by an unmanned U.S. drone in Yemen in 2011. U.S. officials considered him to be an inspirational leader of al-Qaida, and linked him to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting American and Western interests, including the 2009 Christmas Day attempt on a Detroit-bound airliner. Originally, prosecutors charged Loewen with three criminal counts: attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of an explosive device and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

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