The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday said that the terror accusations against a Saudi man living in Texas are evidence that the country’s immigration system has failed, and potential terrorists will continue to enter the country if serious measures aren’t taken.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) pressed the White House to strengthen U.S. immigration laws in the wake of the arrest of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, who was allegedly plotting to make a weapon of mass destruction and targeting former President George W. Bush and others.

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“This was a victory for our law enforcement community, but a failure of our immigration system,” said Smith. “We have not learned the lessons of 9/11. Until we crack down on our immigration laws that allow terrorists to enter the U.S., history will continue to repeat itself.”

The FBI alleges that Aldawsari, 20, tried to purchase chemicals to make a bomb and had extensively planned out possible attack scenarios, including one to plant explosives in toy dolls and another to smuggle a bomb into a nightclub inside a backpack. Other possible targets include Bush’s house in Texas, water dams and nuclear power plants, according to the FBI.

Aldawsari has been charged with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with an alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device, and research of potential U.S. targets.

A college student, Aldawsari sought out a school scholarship so that he could come to the U.S.

Smith said more must be done to screen visa applicants and enforce the Real ID Act, which created national standards for identification cards. Smith pushed for a longer extension of Patriot Act provisions that recently received a 90-day extension.

The FBI credits the arrest to several calls made by private citizens who were concerned about Aldawsari’s alleged actions. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been heavily pushing a new national security campaign called, “If you see something, say something,” which asks citizens to alert authorities to suspicious behavior.

Earlier this month Aldawsari allegedly tried to buy a shipment of the chemical phenol, or carbolic acid, which can be used to make explosives, according to the FBI. But both the chemical supplier and the freight shipper contacted law enforcement officials, saying that they thought the order was suspicious.

Aldawsari allegedly canceled the order, but had previously been successful in acquiring two other chemicals that could be used to create an improvised explosive device, said the FBI.

The FBI said that surveillance of Aldawsari revealed that he allegedly e-mailed himself chemical recipes, plus instructions on how to convert a cellular phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using common household items. He also allegedly purchased a gas mask, a Hazmat suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers and flasks, wiring, a stun gun, clocks and a battery tester.

The FBI says that it found many of these items when they searched his house, as well as a journal that allegedly indicates his long-held desire to carry out a terrorist plot.

According to the FBI, one journal entry reads, “And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”

Aldawsari faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, and is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court on Friday.


—This story was updated from an earlier version.