WICHITA, Kansas — A Kansas man charged with plotting a suicide bombing at a Wichita airport could possibly go to trial by early next summer, a federal judge said Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Monti Belot set deadlines for various motions in the case against Terry Loewen, an avionics technician facing terrorism-related charges, but he stopped short of setting a firm trial date. The judge told attorneys during a brief hearing that he wanted to move the case along quickly.
"I say to Mr. Loewen, I recognize where you are," Belot told the defendant. "I am sure you don't like it."
"Not a lot, sir," Loewen replied.
Loewen has been jailed since his Dec. 13 arrest for allegedly trying to bring a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport, since renamed the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. Loewen worked at the time at the Hawker Beechcraft Services facility at the airport, and was arrested following a months-long sting operation.
Prosecutors allege he planned a suicide bomb plot that was intended to inflict "maximum carnage" and would have killed and injured hundreds of people. The final plan — hatched in an undercover scheme with two FBI agents posing as conspirators — was to detonate the device between terminals for maximum casualties during an explosion in which Loewen would die as a martyr.
He has pleaded not guilty to 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.
His defense attorneys have argued that the FBI groomed Loewen for months before his arrest, and that there are no co-conspirators or any connection to actual al-Qaida contacts.
Before Thursday's public hearing, the judge also met privately in his chambers with prosecutors for a separate hearing under the Classified Information Procedures Act that is invoked when a criminal case deals with classified information.
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