SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2013
Airport plot months in making Authorities allege plan aimed for maximum deaths BY TIM POTTER AND ROY WENZL The Wichita Eagle
or months, authorities allege, a 58-year-old avionics technician named Terry Lee Loewen – driven by radical ideas and prepared to die in a suicide attack – moved forward with a plot to detonate explosives at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. The planned attack was designed to inflict the maximum number of deaths at an airport in the nation’s midsection before Christmas, says a detailed criminal complaint filed Friday. The plot got as far as a gate to the airport shortly before 6 a.m. Friday, when authorities arrested Loewen without incident. What he didn’t know until his arrest is that the people he had been conspiring with all along were FBI agents, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced Friday, stressing that the public and passengers were never in danger. Loewen now faces three federal charges filed in Wichita: One count of trying 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 that Loewen thought was al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen. On the afternoon of the day he had allegedly arranged for himself to die, he appeared instead in U.S. District Court in Wichita to hear himself accused of terrorism charges. When Magistrate Karen Humphreys asked Loewen, “Do you understand your rights?” he replied “yes, ma’am” in a steady voice. Loewen is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail. Loewen worked as an avionics technician at the Hawker Beechcraft Services facility at the airport. The company said it suspended his employment after learning of the arrest. He is alleged to have spent months developing a plan to use his access card to airport grounds to drive a van
Terry Lee Loewen, 58, has been charged in federal court with attempting to explode a car bomb at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.
MORE INSIDE ■ Travelers find airport operating as usual after bomb plot. 10A
Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle
A Kansas state trooper, left, and an airport police officer stand watch at Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita on Friday afternoon after a man was arrested in an alleged bomb plot Friday morning.
“There was no breach of Mid-Continent Airport’s security. At no time was the safety of travelers or members of the public placed in jeopardy.”
■ Go to Kansas.com to read the 21-page criminal complaint and to see a video from Friday’s news conference.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom loaded with explosives to the terminal. Authorities said he planned to pull the trigger on the explosives himself and to die in the explosion. Grissom and FBI Special Agent in Charge Mike Kaste stressed that there was no indication that Loewen was involved with or working with any religious community in Wichita and that his alleged actions in no way Please see PLOT, Page 10A
Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle
Neighbors describe terrorism suspect one count of trying 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. “I can’t believe it,” McKown said. “This is a pretty closeknit neighborhood, but they kind of kept to themselves. You’d see them come and go. Sometimes they’d wave. Sometimes they wouldn’t.” But McKown was firm – he never saw anything suspicious at the house with the unkempt front yard, with an old Jeep Wrangler and a
BY BILL WILSON The Wichita Eagle
■ Brownback, other leaders praise law enforcement response. 10A
Richard McKown woke up at 6 a.m. Friday to a street lined with police and FBI officials. It was hours later before the Wichita man found out why the serenity of his quiet block in the 3800 block of East Funston, tucked behind the Wichita Mall, was the scene of a criminal investigation. McKown’s neighbor, Terry Lee Loewen, 58, was charged with attempting to blow up Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in a criminal complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Wichita. He faces Please see NEIGHBORS, Page 9A
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, right, with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, announces the arrest of Terry Loewen of Wichita early Friday in an alleged plot to detonate a suicide car bomb at Mid-Continent Airport.
Airport: Man would have been screened for access approved for a badge to give him access, said Victor White, Wichita Airport Authority Terry Lee Loewen, the man director of airports. Badges must be renewed each year. facing multiple charges in About 2,000 of the 10,000 connection with an attempt to people employed by the airexplode a car bomb at Wichport or its tenants need access ita Mid-Continent Airport, to airport grounds for their would have gone through job functions, White said. background checks and finThe badges are color-coded gerprinting to gain an access badge for airport grounds, an for level of access. Only a small percentage of those airport official said Friday. Loewen, who worked as an who have badges have access avionics technician at Hawker to the entire airport, he said. Beechcraft Services, would Some employees have access have been checked out by the to only the general aviation FBI’s electronic clearinghouse in Washington before being Please see ACCESS, Page 9A BY MOLLY MCMILLIN The Wichita Eagle
Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle
The house listed as owned by Terry Lee Loewen, 58, who was charged in a criminal complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in a plot to detonate a bomb.
FEDS MUST MAKE DECISION ABOUT KANSAS’ AND ARIZONA’S VOTER REGISTRATION FORMS, SAYS THE ORDER
Judge orders action on voter ID laws A federal judge in Wichita has ordered a federal agency to act on a request by Kansas and Arizona to modify a national voter-registration form to reflect the states’ voter proof-of-citizenship laws. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren said Friday that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission must make a decision
by Jan. 17, adding that the matter had been unreasonably delayed and could begin to interfere with Kansas’ election cycle. Statewide elections are scheduled for next fall. Melgren told a courtroom full of lawyers who had been arguing the issue all morning that he would retain jurisdiction over the case, anticipating that no matter what the EAC decides, “someone in this room won’t like it.” Kansas Secretary of State
©2013 The Wichita Eagle and Beacon Publishing Co., 825 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67202.
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Kris Kobach and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett have sued the commission for refusing to add their states’ proof-of-citizenship requirements to the instruction sheets that accompany the federal voter form. That form is not widely distributed in Kansas but can be downloaded and copied from the Internet. The states had asked Melgren for a preliminary injunction to force the commis-
sion to modify the form. But Melgren said he decided to send the matter back to the EAC to allow the administrative process to be completed. The U.S. Supreme Court this summer invalidated Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship law, ruling that it conflicted with the federal Motor Voter Act, which was designed to make registration more
Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach arrives at the Federal Courthouse in Wichita on Friday morning for an injunction Please see VOTER ID, Page 8A hearing on Kansas and Arizona’s voter registration lawsuit.
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BY FRED MANN The Wichita Eagle
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2013 ■ THE WICHITA EAGLE 9A
Besides fingerprinting and background checks, applicants for a badge must go through a computer-based From Page 1A training session at the airport’s police department, where they learn about rules area, for example, while others and regulations and receive have access only to the cargo area, he said. Badged employees other information, White said. There is a long list of crimiare subject to surveillance by the airport police, who check to nal offenses that disqualify a make sure employees are in the person from gaining a badge, according to Wichita Midproper areas, White said. Continent Airport’s website. The badges are issued by the airport police using proto- Those include offenses such cols issued by the Transporta- as improper transportation of hazardous materials; interfetion Security Administration, rence with flight crew memWhite said. To apply for a bers; conveying false informabadge, the employer must tion and threats; unlawful first verify the need and fill entry to an airport area that out a form justifying that serves air carriers contrary to need, White said. established security require“They have to have a proven ments; and several felonies, need to have access to a sterile such as robbery, burglary and part of the airport,” he said. White said he was unaware aggravated assault. Agents arrested Loewen which level of access Loewen about 5:40 a.m. Friday after had. they say he attempted to But based on his job “I doubt that he had all-access,” enter the airport tarmac and he said. “I’m sure he had lim- deliver a vehicle loaded with what he believed to be high ited access, but I don’t know explosives. Loewen was taken that for a fact.”
into custody when he attempted to open a security gate with his employee access badge. He is alleged to have spent months developing a plan to use his access card to airport grounds to drive a van loaded with explosives to the terminal. The bombs in the van Friday were inert. “He never got through onto the airfield,” White said. Hawker Beechcraft Services, 1980 S. Airport Road, performs maintenance, modification, repair, exterior paint and upgrade services for Hawker and Beechcraft airplanes. It also provides a variety of avionics services. Upon learning of the incident, the company suspended Loewen’s employment pending the outcome of the continuing investigation, Beechcraft said in a statement.
nothing for Loewen. He is an avionics technician at Hawker Beechcraft Services and a longtime Wichitan, show records dating back to at least 1978. He has lived on Funston since 1999, according to records, but has had several other Wichita addresses. Hawker Beechcraft Services officials confirmed Loewen’s employment Friday afternoon and said he has been suspended pending the current investigation. Company officials said they continue to work with federal authorities on the probe. Loewen and his former wife, Sarah, divorced in 1995 in Sedgwick County District Court. The records of that case indicate the couple has one son. Sarah Loewen did not return a message seeking comment for this story. Terry Lee Loewen and his wife, Deborah Loewen, are the listed owners of record for the house on Funston. Liz Champaigne, who has lived on Funston for 23 years, told the same story as McKown: Loewen and the other occupants of his home were private people.
“They pretty much kept to themselves,” she said. Two other neighbors were equally stunned Friday afternoon as they watched FBI investigators in white protective coveralls come and go from the Loewen home, as police investigators worked nearby. “You’re kidding,” said Kyia Reed, who moved into the neighborhood with her mother, Constance, four months ago. “We just went trick-or-treating down there a month or so ago. It’s a normal house, normal decorations. We saw him and his wife, both normal people.” The Loewen brick house is a couple of doors west of Griffith Elementary School on a block of brick ranch homes, the perfect place for a quiet life, said Constance Reed. “It’s been real quiet. Absolutely great,” the woman said. “That’s why we bought this house here four months ago.”
In D.C., tension and unfinished business ACCESS Then there’s overhauling immigration, setting longterm farm policy and extending long-term unemployment WASHINGTON — Be wary benefits set to expire three of all the Washington-speak about a new spirit of biparti- days after Christmas: The House formally ended its sanship suddenly gripping 2013 session without settling Congress. It’s not. any of those problems. Sure, the House of RepreEven the highly touted sentatives peacefully passed a budget plan Thursday night budget deal wasn’t all that big a deal, lawmakers conwith strong support from members of both parties. But ceded. House Democratic the lingering tension is quick- leader Nancy Pelosi of California reluctantly voted yes, ly obvious. but she called the agreement The Senate will return “a draw as small as it could Sunday still mired in a fight possibly be.” over presidential nominaIt adds $63 billion in tions for government posispending during this fiscal tions. This ugly war meant all-night sessions Wednesday year and fiscal 2015, easing and Thursday, highlighted by the automatic across-thesome bitter partisan sniping. board spending cuts, or sequester. The deal would raise On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to start considering $85 billion from revenues the budget agreement. While and other measures over the next 10 years. passage is expected, so are Republican attempts at lengthy debate and delay. ReYears of anger publicans are upset that the plan doesn’t address longMake no mistake, signs did term deficit issues – hardly a emerge suggesting that Resurprise, since most other publicans and Democrats major legislation remains were putting aside years of stuck. anger. BY DAVID LIGHTMAN McClatchy Washington Bureau
“This doesn’t heal our attempt to deal with all of the issues, but this is all one step at a time,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. Congressional observers were heartened by the sudden willingness of House Speaker John Boehner, ROhio, to blast conservative interest groups. Boehner was widely criticized earlier this year for being too acquiescent to their demands to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and to hold out for drastic spending cuts that had little chance of winning approval in the Democraticrun Senate. “I think they’re misleading their followers. I think they’re pushing our members in places where they don’t want to be. And frankly, I just think that they’ve lost all credibility,” Boehner said. His comments drew reaction from some of those groups. But a few hours after he spoke, 169 of the House’s 232 Republicans joined 163 of the 201 Democrats to approve the budget deal.
AROUND THE U.S. the floor when key Democrats balked. But a large bipartisan group in the House and the Senate is still pushing measures to slow the effects of an overhaul enacted just last WASHINGTON — Amid year that was aimed at stabiintense political jockeying and behind-the-scenes finger- lizing and updating the financially insolvent Federal pointing, it appears that Congress will adjourn for the Flood Insurance Program. The 2012 law would do little year without agreeing on in the short term, however, action to curb steep hikes in flood insurance premiums for to reduce the program’s $24 billion deficit, of which $16 thousands of homeowners billion stemmed from the now and many more begin2005 Hurricane Katrina. ning in October 2014. An attempt on Thursday to push a stand-alone bill NASA picks SpaceX to through the House of Repre- run Fla. launch complex sentatives before Christmas, led by Republican Reps. Vern ORLANDO, Fla. — SpaceX Buchanan of Florida, Bill – the rocket company that Cassidy of Louisiana and Jeb last year became the first Hensarling of Texas, ran ever to ship cargo to the aground without reaching International Space Station
Congress fails to curb flood insurance hike
– now is on the verge of taking over one of the old space shuttle launch complexes at Kennedy Space Center. NASA said Friday that it was awarding SpaceX, a Hawthorne, Calif.-based company, the rights to negotiate for a long-term lease to run Launch Complex 39A. It’s one of the two huge pads that have been used for everything from Apollo to space shuttle rockets at Kennedy Space Center. The announcement is a win for one Internet billionaireturned-space-entrepreneur, Elon Musk, and a loss for another, Jeff Bezos. Musk co-founded PayPal and then invested his money to found SpaceX, and Bezos founded Amazon.com and then Blue Origin, based in Kent, Wash.
NEIGHBORS From Page 1A newer-model Saturn in the driveway. “Kinda different. Most of us, we get together like this here today – chat and find out what’s going on. We know each other,” McKown said. That’s the picture Terry Lee Loewen’s neighbors paint of him: a quiet, unobtrusive man who didn’t take part in a relatively close-knit neighborhood. Loewen – also known as Terry L. Lane, according to records – was born July 18, 1955, and is a registered independent according to voting records. He has one apparent brush with the law – a concealed-carry violation at the airport in 2009, police spokesman Doug Nolte said; and one civil judgment, for a medical bill in 1991. District Attorney Marc Bennett’s office said it had no record of him. U.S. District Court and U.S. Bankruptcy Court records in Kansas show
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10A THE WICHITA EAGLE ■ SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2013
Travelers find airport operating as usual Friday It was a regular travel day for most people after a terrorism suspect’s arrest. ■
BY AMY RENEE LEIKER The Wichita Eagle
Valentijn Van Driessen and his traveling companion, Federico Balbo, learned about a bomb plot directed against Mid-Continent Airport on Friday afternoon while standing in line at the airport’s security checkpoint inside the terminal. Both were preparing to fly home to Belgium after working in Wichita for two weeks when they were informed by the news media that a Wichita man had planned to blow up the terminal – a plot that was foiled by law enforcement officials about seven hours before their flight. But that didn’t keep them from thinking: What if? “If you stop and think about it, it could have happened while we were sitting, waiting for our plane,” Van Driessen said. “And then the bomb (could have) went off.” “Yes,” Balbo agreed. “It could have happened to anyone.” Travelers at Wichita Mid-Conti-
nent Airport on Friday afternoon seemed mostly unaware that earlier in the day a 58-year-old man – Wichitan Terry Lee Loewen – allegedly had driven to a tarmac security gate in a vehicle loaded with inert explosives and used his badge to try to gain access inside. Most also didn’t know that law enforcement was waiting there to place him under arrest at 5:40 a.m., disrupting a plan that federal prosecutors say was months in the making. Children played while their parents waited in line to check in at the airport around 2 p.m. Friday. Couples read books. Waiting passengers shuffled through their luggage. Laughter spilled into the lobby from the airport’s restaurants and lounge areas. Little, except an increased presence of law enforcement officers and news media, passengers said, tipped them off to a potential problem. “When we drove up we saw the news vans out there and all of the cops with all the garb on – the vests and ammo and stuff – and we figured something might be going down,” said Mobile, Ala., resident Kurt Sowder. He seemed
surprised to learn of the bombing attempt. “It’s a small airport, so there’s a perception that maybe it would fly under the radar because it’s a smaller place,” Sowder said. “It’s a little nutty. But it’s not going to prevent me from flying.” Loewen, an avionics technician for Hawker Beechcraft Services, faces three charges in federal court: attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. In a news conference Friday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said that no one was ever in danger. Federal agents had been monitoring Loewen since summer, authorities said. Wichitan Ericka Harris and her husband, Michael, said that despite the plot, they felt safe in the airport. They awaited a flight to Dallas on Friday with their infant son, Henry. Nearby, about a half-dozen officers from the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration and the Kansas Highway Patrol watched the line of passengers forming at the security checkpoint
inside the lobby. Two Kansas state troopers handling a canine chatted as they stood near the rental car company counters. Outside, a few armed officers stood guard near the terminal entrances. No one was stopped or questioned before or after they went through the doors. “This stuff probably happens everywhere,” Ericka Harris said. She and Michael Harris both said news of the bombing attempt didn’t surprise them. Chris Atkinson, of Cheyenne, Wyo., also wasn’t concerned. “I’m glad they caught him,” he said while waiting for a flight to Denver. “We were just happy we traveled and didn’t have to take our shoes off on the way here. That’s probably going to change now.” But others, like Balbo and Van Driessen, expressed disbelief. “You would expect something like this to happen maybe in the Middle East or in a major city like New York or Chicago,” Van Driessen said. “But over here, it’s Wichita.” Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.
Brownback, others praise law enforcement response to plot Staff and wire reports
Gov. Sam Brownback and other political leaders praised law enforcement for thwarting the alleged suicide bomb plot at Wichita Mid-Continent Regional Airport. Brownback said at the news conference in Wichita: “In our ongoing war on terrorism, the good guys won one today.” He praised the collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that worked on the case. Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo called the incident a reminder of the “threat we continue to face.” “Threats to the heartland of America from jihadists, sometimes homegrown, are and will continue to be real, and we must ensure that our intelligence community has the tools needed to connect the dots worldwide,” Pompeo said. “We can do so while protecting fundamental civil liberties and we must do so with all of the constitutional methods available.” Republican Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts echoed that the incident was a reminder to remain vigilant. They also said they were grateful for law enforcement officials who kept people safe.
his badge at the gate, where he had tested it two days earlier. But now it had been disabled. After two tries at opening the gate, authorities arrested Loewen. Grissom said FBI Evidence Response Teams are processing multiple locations but that no other arrests are expected.
PLOT From Page 1A should reflect on any religious group. Hussam Madi, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita, said Friday: “We don’t even know who he is at all. We haven’t seen him here. This is the first time that we’ve heard of him.” Madi said the society checked with mosques around the city and none of them knew of Loewen. “We haven’t had any backlash,” as a result of Loewen’s alleged attempt at terrorism. “Hopefully, we don’t.” No flights were delayed or canceled because of the incident, said Victor White, director of airports with the Wichita Airport Authority. General aviation business also took place as usual, White said. Loewen was arrested at one of the gates and never got onto the airfield, White said. Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Dan Dillon said his office could find no evidence of a criminal history for Loewen in Sedgwick County. Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Loewen’s arrest at a news conference Friday afternoon in downtown Wichita that was attended by Gov. Sam Brownback and area law enforcement officials.
Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle
U.S. marshals leave U.S. District Court in Wichita with Terry Lee Loewen. Loewen made his first appearance before a judge Friday afternoon after he was charged in an alleged bomb plot at Mid-Continent Airport.
By early October, the FBI employee was telling Loewen that he had just come back from overseas and that “brothers” were excited about his airport access.
erates’. Just my opinion; if I’m off base, please set me straight.” Three days later, on Aug. 8, after the FBI employee offered to introduce him to someone who could help him wage violence, the complaint says, Loewen wrote: “Brothers The arrest like Osama bin Laden … are a great inspiration to me, but I must be Agents arrested Loewen about willing to give up everything (like 5:40 a.m. Friday after they say he they did) to truly feel like a obedient attempted to enter the airport tarslave of Allah.” mac and deliver a vehicle loaded Around Aug. 21, he sent a message with what he believed to be high saying “I have numerous ideas of explosives. Loewen was taken into ways I could perform jihad,” and he custody when he tried to open a said he had been sending money to security access gate. the “Revolution Muslim website,” Members of the FBI’s Joint Terrothe complaint said. rism Task Force took Loewen into Around Aug. 26, he talked to the custody without incident. FBI employee about giving a “tour” “There was no breach of Midof Mid-Continent Airport, according Continent Airport’s security,” said to the complaint. About a day later, Grissom. “At no time was the safety of travelers or members of the public Loewen allegedly said: “I guess I look at myself as the ‘access’ guy at placed in jeopardy.” Loewen has been under investiga- this point – just need more details at this point … are we talking explotion by the Wichita Joint Terrorism Task Force since early summer 2013, sives, because I know nothing about that? It’s all very surreal at this Grissom said. Loewen didn’t realize point, exciting, yet scary.” he was having an online conversaHe said he could escort someone tion with an FBI employee in which Loewen expressed “desire to engage onto the tarmac that leads to airliners and the control tower, and that in violent jihad on behalf of al Qaehe could gain access to bring a vehda,” the criminal complaint said. Over a period of months, Grissom icle onto the tarmac, the complaint said, Loewen took a series of steps to said. Around Sept. 17, Loewen relayed act on the plot, as part of the jihad, photos of what looked like fighter jet or “holy war.” According to an affidavit, Loewen: trainers outside his hangar, the com■ Studied the layout of the airport plaint said. The planes had apparently stopped for fuel. He talked of and took photographs of access many “Apatche’s” staying overnight. points. And this, the complaint said: ■ Researched flight schedules. ■ Assisted in acquiring compo“It would have been possible today nents for the car bomb. for me to have walked over there, shot ■ Talked about his commitment to both pilots (I don’t know if they are trigger the device and martyr himarmed or not), slapped some C4 on self. both fuel trucks and set them off before anyone even called TSA. Talks REAL cheap, however, so what I think I can Criminal complaint do and what I actually can do are probably two different things.” The 21-page criminal complaint details the development of the alThe complaint also gave this acleged plot and extensively quotes count: By early October, the FBI Loewen’s communication with the employee was telling Loewen that FBI employees. he had just come back from overseas There is an Aug. 5 communication and that “brothers” were excited in which he told an FBI employee, about his airport access. When Loe“As time goes on I care less and less wen was asked if he could scout out about what other people think of targets and security and be willing me, or my views on Islam. I have to plant a device, he allegedly said, been studying subjects like jihad, “I still need time to think about it, martyrdom operations, and Sharia but I can’t imagine anything short of Law.” He was also quoted as saying arrest stopping me.” He also ex“I believe the Muslim who is labeled pressed some concern to the person ‘a radical fundamentalist’ is closer to he was dealing with, saying, “I’m Allah … than the ones labeled ‘mod- sorry I can’t say I trust you 100%;
my greatest fear is not being able to complete an operation because I was set up. I hate this government so much for they have done to our brothers and sisters, that to spent (sic) the rest of my life in prison without having taken a good slice out of the serpents head is unacceptable to me.” Loewen also allegedly told the person posing as a conspirator that he wouldn’t have vehicle access to a ramp until after the first of the year, “so driving on to airport property with a van full of C4 is out of the question – after the first of the year, we could drive a city bus out there.” Loewen was told he could “back out at any time,” the complaint said. Loewen responded in part by saying, “I can’t see myself doing anything that involves killing children, unless I know everything is being done to minimize that.” On Oct. 7, Loewen sent a number of photographs, showing his airport access badge, tarmac gates and gate devices. By Oct. 11, Loewen told the FBI employee “he was prepared to go forward,” the complaint said. “Count me in for the duration,” he said. He talked of using a vehicle with a company logo. By Oct. 18, he was talking of bringing a weapon, “if advisable,” to begin shooting if law enforcement arrived. In 2009, Loewen had a concealed-carry violation at the airport, according to Wichita police. Things moved forward, according to the timeline: On Oct. 25, Loewen met with a second FBI employee, posing as a “brother” with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. During the meeting with the second FBI employee, Loewen repeated “his desire to help FBI Employee 2 with a mission to blow up a plane with numerous people on board,” the complaint said.
Willing to die During a second meeting on Nov. 8, Loewen allegedly indicated he was willing to die, and become a martyr, in the attack. The planning involved talk of moving an explosives-laden vehicle “to the terminal near a number of passenger planes,” and “Loewen suggested that another individual could come in to the terminal with a suicide vest and detonate that to coincide” with the explosives outside, according to the complaint. The second FBI employee and Loewen “discussed executing this plan just prior to Christmas which would cause the greatest impact physically and economically,” the complaint said. They had code words: “rental property.” Loewen said he used Google maps to check out some areas of the airport. In a Nov. 13 communication, Loewen brought up the need to stay below the radar. “Did you notice the brother who got busted trying to fly
to Syria to aid Al Qaeda in fighting the taghoot government – guess he posted a large amount of radical information on Facebook and the FBI set him up. I keep a pretty low profile on Facebook anymore – I have more important things to attend to.” In a meeting about a week later, on Nov. 19, Loewen again sounded committed to dying in the operation, the complaint said. The second FBI employee suggested that Loewen could be the “navigator” by giving directions on where the device could be exploded. Loewen provided “research that he had conducted on the best time to execute the attack based upon the number of people who would be boarding aircraft and the number of people who would be in the terminal,” the complaint said. “Loewen further expressed his desire to kill as many people as possible, and he explained where to park a vehicle full of explosive to accomplish that goal.” He included a diagram of the terminal and tarmac. He agreed to buy a device to set off the explosive, the document said. Loewen allegedly volunteered to wire the explosive device, “since he does wiring as part of his employment.”
‘Maximum casualties’ The final plan: When Loewen got access, they would drive to the terminal early in the morning, exploding the device “between the terminals for maximum casualties,” the complaint said. Both Loewen and the second FBI employee would die in the blast. According to the narrative, on Nov. 21, Loewen met with his supposed co-conspirator and brought components he got from his workplace. Around Dec. 3, Loewen provided containers for the explosives. Loewen marked an “X” on a diagram for the place to park the vehicle that would cause the most damage. Based on departure schedules Loewen offered, early morning was the ideal time. On Dec. 6, Loewen renewed his badge and now supposedly had access to a gate to the tarmac. On Dec. 9, this past Monday, he verified that the badge would work. In a meeting Wednesday, Loewen wired the detonator and helped the FBI employee build the rest of the bomb, the complaint said. They decided to mount the operation on Friday, Dec. 13, and “Loewen stated that he was happy that this was going to happen soon.” He didn’t go to work Wednesday and wrote letters to his family. At 4:45 a.m. Friday, the supposed co-conspirator picked up Loewen at a local hotel. They drove to a spot where the bomb was stored, and Loewen completed the wiring, the complaint said. Then, according to the authorities’ account: At 5:19, they headed to the airport. At 5:40, Loewen tried to use
At his court appearance Friday afternoon, Humphreys, the federal magistrate, told Loewen she was scheduling him for a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing for 11 a.m. on Dec. 20. Federal prosecutors told her in the courtroom that a grand jury would meet on Wednesday to consider an indictment. Humphreys told prosecutors from the bench to make sure Loewen gets the several medications she had heard he needed. When he was escorted into the courtroom, he walked with short steps, his legs, hands and waist all linked with chains and handcuffs. He appeared calm and swiveled gently in his chair in the minutes he and assistant public defender John Henderson waited for the judge to enter the courtroom. Just before Humphreys arrived, men from the U.S. Marshals Service unhooked all of the restraints. They dropped the chains with a heavy, clunking sound a few feet from the table where Loewen then sat down beside his public defender. In the courtroom seats behind Loewen sat his wife, identified in mortgage records with the Sedgwick County Register of Deeds’ office as Deborah Loewen. Humphreys read him his rights and then the charges. “Do you understand counts one, two and three filed against you?” Humphreys asked. “Yes, ma’am, I do,” he replied. She asked about his finances and noted that in the hours he’d spent under arrest he’d already filled out a financial affidavit. She asked him if he wanted a public defender. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied. She noted that he had told officials already that he didn’t know a lot about his own finances because his wife handles the family finances. Loewen said that is true. Humphreys nodded. “Well, I don’t think that’s all that unusual,” she said. Henderson said federal authorities had assured him they’d acquired several medications that he said Loewen needs. Loewen has several stents in blood vessels in his chest and needs at least one of the medications – a blood thinner – every day. “If he goes without that medication for 24 hours, there could be severe consequences to him,” Henderson said. Humphreys then addressed Loewen’s wife. “I know all of this must be upsetting,” the judge said. She asked whether she’d helped federal marshals make sure they understood all his medication needs. Deborah Loewen rose from her seat. “Yes,” she said. “I wrote it out on my car for them this morning.” After that, Terry Lee Loewen was led from the courtroom. News reporters tried to talk to Deborah Loewen, but she walked away. “No comment,” she said. “He has an attorney.” Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker, Stan Finger, Deb Gruver, Roy Wenzl, Molly McMillin, Bill Wilson, Joshua Wood, Tom Shine, John Boogert and Dan Voorhis of The Eagle Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.