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Saudi student gets life in plot to strike in U.S.,

| Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, 8:04 p.m.

AMARILLO, Texas — A former Texas college student from Saudi Arabia was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for trying to make a bomb for use in a religious attack, possibly targeting a former U.S. president.

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari was sentenced in Amarillo, where jurors convicted him in June of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Prosecutors say he had collected bomb-making material in his apartment and researched possible targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush. A handwritten journal found in his apartment included notes that he believed it was time for “jihad,” a Muslim term for holy war.

Although the 22-year-old Aldawsari apologized Tuesday for “these bad actions,” Judge Donald E. Walter said the evidence against him was overwhelming. Walter acknowledged he was conflicted due to Aldawsari's youth and signs that outside influences had led him astray.

“But the bottom line is that but by the grace of God there would be dead Americans,” Walter said. “You would have done it. In every step, it was you all alone.”

There is no parole in the federal system for defendants convicted of recent crimes.

Aldawsari came to the U.S. legally in 2008 to study chemical engineering. He was arrested in Lubbock in February 2011, after federal agents searched his apartment and found explosive chemicals, wiring, a hazmat suit and clocks, along with videos showing how to make the chemical explosive TNP.

Investigators say Aldawsari's goal was to carry out jihad. His attorneys claimed he was a harmless failure who never came close to attacking anyone.

FBI bomb experts say the amounts of chemicals he had would have yielded almost 15 pounds of explosive — about the same amount used per bomb in the 2005 London subway attacks. He also tried to order phenol, a chemical that can be used to make explosives.

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