Judge refuses to toss out case against suicide bomb suspect
WICHITA, Kansas (AP) — It cannot be determined without a trial whether the U.S. government’s conduct in an undercover operation was so outrageous that it induced a man into plotting a suicide bomb attack at a Kansas airport, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge Monti Belot rejected the defense team’s entrapment argument and a plethora of other legal moves that sought to have the federal indictment against Terry Loewen thrown out.
The 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 Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita. Loewen was arrested after a sting operation in which undercover FBI agents posing as co-conspirators gave him fake explosives.
Loewen 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.
Friday’s sweeping decision rejected numerous pending defense motions, siding squarely with prosecutors on each issue.
Defense attorneys had contended that the evidence of government entrapment was so strong, the indictment should be thrown out even before the case goes to trial, which has yet to be scheduled. They argued Loewen had no predisposition to commit the crime when the government began its investigation in June 2013.
But prosecutors countered that Loewen was “well on his way” to becoming a violent terrorist before authorities began investigating him.
Belot said claims of entrapment are tied to the merits of the case and cannot be determined in a pretrial motion. He made a similar finding on defense claims that the government’s conduct was outrageous.