Government evidence against a man at the heart of a suicide bomb plot designed to explode at a Kansas airport will be shielded from the public.
US District Judge Monti Belot, who is overseeing the case, decided to approve the prosecution's request. 58-year-old Terry Loewen has been charged with plotting to blow up Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport in December.
The prosecution argued that the exposure of this sensitive evidence to the general public would allow them access to the government's investigative methods. This could then ultimately compromise their attempts to stop future plots.
On December 13, Loewen was arrested after he tried to drive a van that was filled to the brim with inert explosives onto the airport's property. Officials were able to stop Loewen's attempt because they had conducted several months worth of undercover operations. Prosecutors revealed that Loewen had timed his attack to occur at the height of the holiday travel season, in order to cause "maximum carnage."
Loewen has been accused of attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida, use a weapon of mass destruction, and with trying to use an explosive device to damage property. Loewen has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Belot's orders mean that any material that is provided by the government, which is used in the case, is only allowed to be viewed by a select few. Loewen is only allowed to look at it in the presence of his attorney, who must then retain possession of the evidence. At the end of the trial he must also destroy these documents.
It also means that the media are prohibited from any access to the evidence, and it also forbids the disclosure of the real or fake identities of the undercover agents who became friends with Loewen as he began to plot his domestic terrorist attack.
Defense attorneys had previously chastised the government for attempting to "micromanage" their efforts with these restrictions.
Loewns was arrested in December, and he is believed to have even left his family a note, which was dated December 11, explaining:
"By the time you read this I will – if everything went as planned – have been martyred in the path of Allah. There will have been an event at the airport which I am responsible for. The operation was timed to cause maximum carnage + death."Loewen's lawyers insist that he actually "wanted to walk away" from the plan, and "it [was] the FBI employee who then talk[ed] him back into the criminal plot. They made sure that he wasn't going to leave."
[Image via Andrey Burmakin/Shutterstock]