Authorities have arrested a man suspected of plotting to blow up the Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kansas, in a suicide attack with a carload of explosives, officials said Friday.
Terry Loewen, a 58-year-old aviation technician from Wichita, intended to die a martyr in the bombing, U.S. District Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom said at a news conference.
Authorities said Loewen was believed to have been motivated, at least partly, by religious beliefs.
He was taken into custody early Friday, officials said, as he attempted to make his way onto airport property with what he thought were active explosives.
Loewen had planned the attack for months and his actions had been under surveillance, they said.
“It was not a bomb that would ever explode,” said Grissom, U.S. attorney for the western district of Kansas. “At no time was the airport perimeter breached and at no time was any citizen or member of the traveling public in danger.”
Officials said Loewen had made statements prior to the attempted attack that he was resolved to commit an act of violent “jihad” on behalf of al Qaeda against the United States.
Loewen was charged in federal court 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.
Officials said they were continuing their investigation, but no further arrests were expected.
“This incident is a reminder that we must remain vigilant and reaffirm our commitment to protecting this country and its ideals from those who wish to do us harm,” said U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, in a statement.