Nightly News | February 24, 2011
>>> big story out of texas tonight. a college student from saudi arabia under arrest, accused of planning to build and set off bombs in terrorist attacks around the united states . the fbi says this case broke open only because someone noticed something that wasn't quite right. our report from our justice correspondent, pete williams .
>> reporter: inside this apartment in lubbock, texas, the fbi says, were enough chemicals and equipment to make a powerful military-style bomb. all gathered, prosecutors say, by a 20-year-old college student , khalid ali-m aldawsari. investigators say the tip that broke the case came just three weeks ago when a north carolina chemical company notified the fbi that he ordered a suspiciously large supply.
>> hope that we were helpful and i hope that we thwarted what could have been a real tragedy.
>> reporter: the shipping company in lubbock also alerted police when aldawsari sought to have the chemicals sent to its office because hazardous materials could not be sent to his apartment. even so, a former fbi bomb expert says he was well on his way to succeeding.
>> in terms of the type of explosive he might have created, yes, it would have been a high explosive mixture.
>> reporter: after getting the tips, the fbi secretly searched aldawsari's apartment and e-mails. agents say in a handwritten diary, he claimed he had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the united states since he was in high school in saudi arabia , where he studied hard to get saudi government scholarships to come here. it was, he wrote, quote, the support i need for jihad, god willing . the fbi says he researched possible targets online, dams in colorado or california, new york city streets for possible car bombs , even the dallas home of former president george w. bush .
>> you know, you can only go by his words, and it was clearly, as he stated, his intention to construct this device and use it.
>> reporter: investigators say he had not yet built a bomb or chosen a target, but they say he would likely still be at it if those two companies had not sounded the alarm, brian.
>> pete williams in our d.c. bureau tonight. pete, thanks for that.