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Saudi student sentenced to life for US bomb plot

A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas [official website] sentenced [press release] a former Texas college student from Saudi Arabia to life in prison on Tuesday for trying to make a bomb for use in a jihad. One of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsar's possible targets was believed to be former US president George W. Bush [official profile]. While Judge Donald Walter noted Aldawsari's youth and susceptibility to external influences, he found that the evidence was overwhelming, warranting a life sentence. A jury convicted [Reuters report] Aldawsari in June of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Aldawsari was arrested in February 2011 after federal agents found explosive chemicals, wiring, clocks, a hazmat suit and instructional videos on explosive devices in his apartment. Defense attorneys had argued that while Aldawsari had intent, he lacked a first "substantial step" necessary for conviction of the charges, but prosecutors pointed to the damage Aldawsari could have done with the explosives had Aldawsari successfully constructed a bomb.

This is one of several recent cases dealing with attempted bombings in the US. Last month a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] sentenced [JURIST report] convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam, the "Millennium bomber," to a 37-year prison sentence for a 1999 plot to blow up the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve. Also that month, Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [NYT profile; JURIST news archive], accused of bombing the USS Cole while it was in port in Yemen in 2000, boycotted [JURIST report] his pretrial hearing at the facility. In May a jury in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York [official website] convicted [JURIST report] naturalized American citizen Adis Medunjanin for his role in a conspiracy to bomb the New York City subway system in September 2009. In February the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] sentenced [JURIST report] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to life imprisonment for his attempt to detonate an underwear bomb [JURIST report] while on Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

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