Khalid Aldawsari. A diabolical terrorist mastermind who wanted to wage jihad? Or a loser who failed at school, relationships, and life? A federal jury in Amarillo will have to decide which version fits the defendant from Lubbock who is accused of trying to make a weapon of mass destruction.
The prosecution and defense each took their turn Friday to make a strong first impression on the jury.
Prosecutors promised to show physical evidence, including a HazMat suit, a professional chemistry set, wiring and everything needed to fabricate a detonator. They read entries from his personal journal which showed his disdain for America. And they played recordings from hidden microphones that captured Aldawsari saying, "They deserved 9/11 and it should happen again and again."
When the defense took its turn, Aldawsari's attorney, Dan Cogdell, told the jury the defendant may indeed have had intent to commit a crime, but he never made an attempt because he was incompetent.
Cogdell said, "There was no plan to his targets. They just kept changing. There were horrific thoughts, but no plan."
Cogdell described Aldawsari as a failure, saying we was not the lone wolf the government says he was. Instead he was just a failure. "He failed in school, he failed in relationships and as a terroristic failure," Cogdell said. He told the jury that no matter how much prejudice they hold toward Aldawsari, they had to put that aside, follow the law, and the evidence will show that he is not guilty.
Prosecutors claim Aldawsari's prospective targets were New York City, unknown hydroelectric and nuclear plants, the UT-Oklahoma football game, and the Dallas home of former president George W. Bush.