(Reuters) - A Moroccan man who entered the United States as an exchange student six years ago is facing criminal charges after planning to use a remote-controlled plane to bomb a U.S. university and a federal building in Connecticut, officials said on Tuesday.
The resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, 26-year-old El Mehdi Semlali Fathi, was arrested on Monday after telling a friend that he was studying how to carry out the bomb attack with a toy plane, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut and court papers filed by a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent.
In a conversation recorded by the FBI, Fathi "repeatedly confirmed his desire to bomb an educational university outside the state of Connecticut" and claimed he had lined up financing from drug dealers to fund the attack, officials said.
"Fathi stated that the bomb that he planned to use would be made for him, and he claimed that everything is available in Southern California on the border," the FBI affidavit said.
Fathi entered the United States in 2008 on a student visa that expired in 2009 after he failed all the classes he had enrolled in at Virginia International University, according to court papers.
He had been preparing an asylum application but told a friend in a conversation recorded by the FBI that he had constructed a false history of abuse for political dissent in his native country to justify that bid.
Fathi has been arrested twice since entering the United States, in 2010 in Virginia for trespassing, a charge that was later dismissed, and in California in 2012 for theft.
In the Connecticut case, he has been charged with making false statements in an immigration-related matter.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Sofina Mirza-Reid)