WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. federal officials said on Friday they had arrested a man for alleged car bomb plot against the airport at Wichita, the U.S. state of Kansas.
Terry L. Loewen, 58, of Wichita, was arrested Friday morning at the Wichita Mid-Continent regional airport and has been charged in a federal court, the federal officials said at a press conference held in Wichita.
Investigators said the man attempted to enter the airport tarmac and deliver a vehicle loaded with what he believed were high explosives.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Loewen in U.S. District Court in Wichita, he was charged with one count of attempting to "use a weapon of mass destruction against people and property within the U.S.," one count of maliciously attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of knowingly attempting to "provide material support and resources" to designated foreign terrorist group Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
If convicted, Loewen would face a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
Loewen was arrested as part of an FBI undercover investigation, and the device used by him was in fact "inert and at no time posed a danger to the public," the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
"There was no breach of Mid-Continent's airport's security," said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. "At no time was the safety of travelers or members of the public placed in jeopardy."
Loewen works at the airport as an avionics technician and is alleged to have spent months developing a plan that involved using his access card to airport grounds to drive a van loaded with explosives to the terminal. He planned to pull the trigger on the explosives himself and die in the explosion, the Justice Department said.
Loewen has been under investigation by the Wichita Joint Terrorism Task Force since early summer 2013 after he had made statements that he was resolved to commit an act of violent jihad against the United States.
"Lone wolves -- home grown violent extremists remain a very serious threat to our nation's security," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Kaste. "Today's arrest emphasizes the continual need for the public to remain vigilant as law enforcement relies on the public's assistance."