Agent: Chemicals, other bomb-making material found in Saudi man’s apartment

AMARILLO, Texas — Federal agents who searched the Texas apartment of a Saudi man accused of gathering materials to make a bomb found sulfuric acid and nitric acid, among other things, an FBI agent testified Friday.

During the first day of testimony in the trial of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, Special Agent Aaron Covey walked jurors through the 22-year-old former chemical engineering student’s apartment in West Texas using photos taken hours after Aldawsari’s Feb. 23, 2011, arrest. Prosecutors contend Aldawsari gathered bomb components with the goal of targeting sites across the U.S.

Prosecutors presented more than 80 exhibits Friday, many of them photos that gave jurors a first look at Aldawsari’s sparsely furnished apartment near Texas Tech University.

Aldawsari came to the U.S. in October 2008 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He transferred in early 2011 to nearby South Plains College, where he was studying business. A Saudi industrial company, which was not identified in court documents, paid his tuition and living expenses.

In his opening statement earlier Friday, Cogdell called his client a failure who never presented a true threat.

Court documents say Aldawsari wrote in Arabic in his journal that he had been planning a terror attack in the U.S. even before he came to the country on a scholarship, and that it was “time for jihad,” or holy war. He bemoaned the plight of Muslims and said he was influenced by Osama bin Laden’s speeches.

FBI bomb experts have said they believe Aldawsari had sufficient components to produce almost 15 pounds of explosive — about the same amount used per bomb in the London subway attacks that killed scores of people in July 2005.