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Crime and Courts

Terry Lee Loewen Charged With Suicide Bombing Attempt At Mid-Continent

Aileen LeBlanc

A suicide bombing attempt took place this morning at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport. Terry Lee Loewen was taken into custody after trying to drive a vehicle loaded with what he thought were explosives on to the parking lot.

Members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Loewen after he attempted to enter the airport tarmac at 5:40 a.m. on Friday.

"There was no breach of Mid-Continent Airport's security," U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a press release. "At no time was the safety of travelers or members of the public placed in jeopardy."

After Loewen allegedly made comments online about wanting to commit an act of "violent jihad" against the United States, undercover FBI agents communicated with him in early summer 2013. They were able to uncover and intercept his plan to detonate his bomb.

According to Grissom, because of the FBI intervention, the explosives he attempted to use were inert and were never intended to explode.

Loewen, an avionics technician, had allegedly spent five months devising a plan to use his access card to gain entrance to the airport with a bomb. According to an affidavit, Loewen:

  • Studied the layout of the airport and took photographs of access points.
  • Researched flight schedules to figure out when the airport experiences a heightened amount of traffic.
  • Assisted in acquiring components for the car bomb.
  • Discussed his commitment to trigger the device and martyr himself.

Loewen is being charged with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property and one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
"Lone wolves - home grown violent extremists remain a very serious threat to our nation's security," FBI Special-Agent-In-Charge Michael Kaste said. "Today's arrest emphasizes the continual need for the public to remain vigilant as law enforcement relies on the public's assistance."

U.S. Attorney Grissom wanted to express that there was no indication that Loewen was involved or working with any members of any religious community in Wichita. He also said that the investigation is ongoing and no additional arrests are expected.

If convicted, Loewen would face a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.