By Jeanne Meserve and Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
February 24, 2011 12:14 p.m. EST
Washington (CNN) -- A Saudi national living in Texas was arrested Wednesday for allegedly researching and acquiring chemicals to make a bomb, authorities said Thursday.
Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, of Lubbock is accused of researching several possible targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, and nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams.
Aldawsari was arrested in Lubbock on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device, according to the Justice Department.
Aldawsari is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock on Friday morning, the Department of Justice said.
Aldawsari, who was admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, officials said.
According to court records, Aldawsari has been researching online how to construct an improvised explosive device, or IED, using several chemicals as ingredients. He has also "acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment" needed for the bomb.
Authorities said Aldawsari described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.
Aldawsari conducted research on various targets and e-mailed himself information on these locations and people, the Department of Justice said.
On February 6, the affidavit alleges, Aldawsari sent himself an e-mail titled "Tyrant's House," in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush, investigators said.
In another e-mail to himself, titled "NICE TARGETS," he listed two categories of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants.
Other documents sent to himself, with the subject line "Targets," contained the names and home addresses of three people who had served in the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
"As alleged in the complaint, Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States. Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security. "This case serves as another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad."
A spokesman for Bush referred calls to the Secret Service.
President Barack Obama was informed about the operation before the arrest was made, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said.
"The president thanks the FBI, Department of Justice, and the rest of our law enforcement, intelligence and Homeland Security professionals who continue to keep us safe and who once again have served with extraordinary skill and with the commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand," Shapiro said.
South Plains College said that it had been notified that one of its students had been detained, but didn't have further information on the arrest. A spokeswoman said Aldawsari was a transfer student who had been at their college for only six weeks.