Arrested Saudi terror suspect appears in court

Khalid Aldawsari is accused in a plot that may have targeted George Bush.

Updated: Feb 26, 2011, 21:48 PM IST

Houston: A student from Saudi Arabia
arrested for attempting to blow up nuclear plants in the US
and the residence of former president George W Bush, appeared
in a federal court, charged with attempted use of a weapon of
mass destruction.

US Marshals escorted handcuffed Khalid Ali-M-Aldawsari
into US District Court, Northern District of Texas yesterday,
two days after he was arrested on terror charges.

The Saudi resident did not enter an official plea at
the appearance. His next court hearing has been set for March
11, when he will enter an official plea.
"I request that everyone take a step back and allow
the legal proceedings to unfold in a timely and orderly
fashion," Aldawsari`s lawyer Rod Hobson said in a statement.

Hobson said his client will enter a "not guilty" plea
and "as an accused person, Aldawsari is presumed innocent."

"The eyes of the world are on this case and the
treatment of this accused person. This is a wonderful
opportunity for us to show the world how truly fair our legal
system is, even to those who are accused of trying to harm our
country," he added.

The Justice Department said Aldawsari bought explosive
chemicals online and planned to blow up dams, nuclear plants,
or the Dallas home of Bush.

The 20-year-old engineering student has reportedly
said that he had been inspired by 9/11 terror attacks and
speeches by Osama bin Laden.
When asked by Judge Nancy Koenig if he understands the
charges against him, he replied: "Yes, I do".

Judge Koenig also asked Aldawsari if he had been
contacted by the Saudi Consulate, to which he answered "Yes".

The judge ordered him to remain in custody until a
March 11 detention hearing.

If convicted, Aldawsari faces a maximum penalty of
life in prison.

In his journal, the college student from Saudi Arabia
who studied chemical engineering in Texas described a plan to
travel to New York City, place bombs in several rental cars
for remote detonation and leave the vehicles in different
places during rush hour, according to court documents released
on Thursday.

"After mastering the English language, learning how to
build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel
Americans, it is time for jihad," or holy war, Aldawsari wrote
in the journal, according to documents filed by prosecutors.

In a statement, Aldawsari`s attorney Hobson called
press coverage since his client`s arrest "very one-sided and
biased," and suggested it has made it difficult for Aldawsari
to receive a fair trial in Lubbock.