You'd never know it from the Justice Department press release, but the "homegrown violent extremist" charged with planning a suicide attack against a Kansas airport decided to carry out the attack after studying the writings of the late al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
Terry Lee Loewen, 58, the man charged with trying to bomb Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport, is no Timothy McVeigh. He's only "homegrown" in the sense that he's from the United States; the inspiration for the attack came from sources such as, well, Inspire — "I like to stay informed," he allegedly wrote to explain why he reads al Qaeda's magazine, according to the criminal complaint.
"Brothers like Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki are a great inspiration to me, but I must be willing to give up everything (like they did) to truly feel like a obedient slave of Allah," the complaint quotes Loewen as writing to an undercover FBI agent.
"I have read Anwar aI-Awlaki's 44 ways of [supporting] jihad and like everything I've ever read of his, it's very informative ... I have downloaded tens of thousands of pages on the subjects I mentioned earlier [referring to jihad, martyrdom operations and implementation of Sharia law]. Today I printed out something called the aI Qaeda Manual (or Manchester Manual)," Loewen also wrote, per the complaint.
The U.S.-born Awlaki was a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and has been tied to several terrorist attacks in the United States, including the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and the "underwear bomber" plot, in which a man tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight nearing Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. Awlaki was killed Sept. 30, 2011, in Yemen by a U.S. drone strike ordered by President Obama.
The connection with Awlaki is why Loewen is charged with providing "knowingly attempted to provide material support and resources, in the way of services, personnel and property ... to aI Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."
Though Loewen called himself a Muslim, he was not associated with any religious groups in Wichita, U.S. Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom told reporters.
But the FBI didn't call the Tsarnaev brothers, who bombed the Boston Marathon on April 15, "homegrown violent extremists." They were radicalized by Islamist YouTube videos and learned to build their pressure cooker bombs from the same Inspire magazine.
So, why do they downplay al Qaeda's alleged influence over Terry Lee Loewen?