Wichita man attempts suicide bombing at airport; doesn’t know explosives are fake
(CNN) — A local man was arrested trying to deliver a vehicle packed with fake explosives that he thought were real onto the tarmac of the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in Kansas, federal officials said Friday.
The man, Terry Loewen, 58, who worked at the Wichita airport, was taken into custody about 6:40 a.m. ET "when he attempted to open a security gate with his pass," said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. He intended to drive the vehicle onto the tarmac and detonate explosives in a suicide bombing, he said.
"In fact, these explosives were inert, and it was not a bomb that would ever explode," Grissom said, adding that the airport perimeter was never breached and "no one was placed in any jeopardy."
Loewen, who became the subject of a federal investigation this summer, hoped to commit an "act of violent jihad against the United States" and spent considerable time photographing airport access points, monitoring flight schedules and assisting in the acquisition of bomb components in hopes of detonating the bomb during a peak traffic time for the airport and exacting maximum destruction, Grissom said.
Loewen is charged 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 did not answer questions or elaborate on the third charge during a Friday news conference.
The Wichita Mid-Continent Airport is located west of the city and is the busiest airport in Kansas.