WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted the man accused of plotting a suicide bomb attack at a Kansas airport where he worked as an avionics technician.
The three-count indictment charges Terry Lee Loewen with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of an explosive device to damage property and attempted material support to the terrorist group al-Qaida.
FBI investigators say Loewen was trying to take what he believed was a car bomb onto the tarmac at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport when they arrested him on Friday.
The charges returned by the grand jury are essentially the same as those brought in a criminal complaint Friday and the indictment does not provide new details on the case. But the grand jury indictment makes a public preliminary hearing unnecessary.
Loewen's defense attorney, John Henderson, declined comment Wednesday.
The grand jury proceedings were secret.
If convicted, Loewen faces up to life in prison on the most serious charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, the U.S. attorney's office said.
In the initial criminal complaint, authorities detailed an undercover sting in which Loewen and two FBI agents posing as conspirators hatched a plot to place a vehicle full of explosives at the airport. Court documents said the 58-year-old Wichita man timed the operation to cause "maximum carnage" and death.
In a letter to a relative that prosecutors say Loewen wrote two days before the planned attack, he said he expected to be martyred for Allah by the time the letter was read. He said his only explanation was that he believed in jihad, or holy war, for the sake of Allah and his Muslim brothers and sisters. He acknowledged that most Muslims in the U.S. would condemn him.
A detention hearing is scheduled for Friday.