Crime & Courts

Man accused of Wichita airport bomb plot to change plea

Terry L. Loewen is accused of trying to carry out a suicide bomb attack for al-Qaida at what was then Wichita Mid-Continent Airport
Terry L. Loewen is accused of trying to carry out a suicide bomb attack for al-Qaida at what was then Wichita Mid-Continent Airport File photo

The man accused of plotting a suicide bomb attack at a Wichita airport in 2013 intends to change his plea, according to federal court filings.

Terry L. Loewen was arrested in December 2013 when the former Hawker Beechcraft avionics technician allegedly tried to bring a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at what was then Mid-Continent Airport.

His arrest capped a months-long sting operation in which undercover FBI agents posed online as co-conspirators.

Loewen, who previously pleaded not guilty, 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.

According to court documents, a change-of-plea hearing for Loewen is set for Monday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Monti Belot in federal court in Wichita.

His defense attorney did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment about the plea change, and the U.S. attorney’s office would not comment.

In previous court filings, Loewen’s defense attorneys contended there is strong evidence of government entrapment and that the case should be thrown out before it goes to a jury. They argued Loewen had no predisposition to commit the crime when the government began its investigation in June 2013.

Authorities said Loewen planned to pull the trigger on the explosives himself and to die in the explosion. Loewen was taken into custody when he tried to open a security access gate.

Loewen’s attorneys have previously called into question the government’s methodology for finding Loewen, citing concerns that agents may have come across Loewen before their investigation under “constitutionally questionable practices” by agencies of the federal government. The defense noted that programs such as the collection of massive amounts of metadata have been called into question on Fourth Amendment grounds of unreasonable search and seizure.

Earlier this year, the judge in the case ruled that the government does not have to disclose whether mass surveillance led investigators to Loewen. The possible existence of that evidence has been an issue in the terrorism case.

Redacted court filings do not indicate exactly how the government zeroed in on Loewen, but Belot noted that prosecutors have already turned over documents indicating the government monitored the defendant’s e-mail and Facebook postings.

Contributing: Associated Press

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kelsey_ryan.

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