WICHITA, Kan. – A man accused of plotting a suicide bomb attack at a Wichita airport told a federal court Friday that he intends to change his not-guilty plea.
A docket notation shows the change-of-plea hearing for Terry L. Loewen is set for Monday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Monti Belot in Wichita.
Loewen, a former avionics technician, was arrested in December 2013 after authorities said he tried to bring a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport, now called the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. He is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to use an explosive device to damage property and attempting to give material support to al-Qaida.
Defense attorney John Henderson did not immediately respond to an email seeking about the development. The U.S. attorney's office declined comment.
Prosecutors have alleged in court filings in the case that Loewen planned a suicide bomb attack aimed at inflicting "maximum carnage" that would have killed and injured hundreds of people during the busy holiday travel season. The final plan — hatched in an undercover scheme with two FBI agents posing as co-conspirators — was to detonate the device between terminals and Loewen would die as a martyr, prosecutors said.
Early on, Loewen's defense team raised the issue of possible government entrapment, but their myriad of court filings to get charges dismissed or evidence thrown out have failed. Prosecutors have argued that Loewen was "well on his way" to becoming a violent terrorist before authorities began investigating him.
His case is among others in Kansas and around the country in which the government has used sting operations to thwart would-be domestic terrorist attacks.
In April, John T. Booker was arrested while allegedly trying to arm what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb inside a van near the Fort Riley military base in Kansas. A Topeka man, Alexander E. Blair, was later charged with conspiring with Booker.
In Chicago, a Lebanese immigrant pleaded guilty to two explosives counts and was jailed for placing a backpack he thought held a bomb by a crowded bar near Wrigley Field. And in another Chicago case, a U.S. citizen is accused of attempting to set off what he thought was a car bomb outside a bar in 2012.