A 58-year-old airport worker was charged Friday with allegedly planning a suicide bombing at a passenger terminal at the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in Kansas.
The suspect, Terry Lee Loewen, an avionics technician who lives in Wichita, was arrested earlier in the day as he attempted to use his security pass to drive a vehicle that he thought contained explosives onto the tarmac at the airport, law enforcement officials said at a news conference in Wichita. In fact, the car contained only dummy explosives.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Loewen spent months developing a plan to drive a carload of explosives to the airport terminal and that he was determined to trigger the bomb himself and die in the blast.
Loewen, who is white, became radicalized after reading extremist Islamic material on the Internet, Grissom said.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Wichita charges Loewen with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He was scheduled to be arraigned at 3 p.m. local time.
If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The FBI had the suspect under constant surveillance and at no time was the public in danger, said Grissom and Michael Kaste, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Kansas City.
In advance of the news conference, an official familiar with the case told NBC News that undercover operatives, posing as like-minded individuals, had met with the suspect frequently.
The airport where the man allegedly attempted to carry out the attack is the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, a commercial airport about 7 miles west of downtown Wichita and the largest and busiest airport in Kansas.