US authorities have arrested a 20-year-old Saudi national on charges he tried to use a weapon of mass destruction and potentially targeted former President George W. Bush, the Justice Department said on Thursday.
Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, who was admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa, was arrested in Texas on Wednesday by FBI agents. He was accused of purchasing chemicals and equipment to make an improvised explosive device, the Justice Department said.
The FBI received a report on 1 February from a chemical supplier about an attempt by Aldawsari to buy concentrated phenol, which has legitimate uses but can also can be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, known as picric acid.
The shipment was sent to a freight company but the firm returned it to the supplier and called police, the Justice Department said. Aldawsari told the supplier he was connected to a university and was doing "off-campus, personal research."
He was accused of making lists of targets that included nuclear power plants and one e-mail included the Dallas address of Bush.
If convicted, Aldawsari faces up to life in prison.
A Justice Department official said there was no evidence the suspect was part of a militant group and he apparently was acting alone. US officials have been increasingly concerned about individuals acting alone to launch attacks in the United States.