Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 22, was convicted in June of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Aldawsari was studying chemical engineering at Texas Tech before transferring to South Plains College to study business.
Investigators said Aldawsari wanted to carry out jihad, which is a Muslim word for holy war. Prosecutors said Aldawsari amassed bomb-making materials in his apartment and had researched possible targets. Those targets included the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush and the homes of three former soldiers who were stationed at Abu Ghraib prison.
Aldawsari, who did not testify in the trial, apologized to the judge Tuesday for "these bad actions." He also told the judge that he felt lonely and isolated.
The judge said though Aldasawri is young and showed signs that outside influences had led him astray, the evidence against him remained overwhelming.
FBI bomb experts said the amounts of chemicals Aldasawri obtained would have yielded almost 15 pounds of explosives -- about the same amount used per bomb in the 2005 London subway attacks. Aldawsari also tried to order phenol, a chemical that can be used to make explosives. Authorities also said Aldawsari purchased chemicals like sulfuric and nitric acids, which can be combined with phenol to create TNP.
Court records show that his emails and journal contained recipes for explosives. The journal also revealed Aldawsari had been planning a terror attack in the U.S. for years and was infulenced by Osama bin Laden.
During his trial, Aldawsari's lawyers said although he showed intent, he never took the "substantial step" needed for a conviction. They also referred to him as a "failure" and poor student who never actually threatened anyone.
Aldawsari came to the U.S. legally in 2008 to study chemical engineering. He was arrested in Lubbock in February 2011, after federal agents secretly searched his apartment and found explosive chemicals, wiring, a hazmat suit and clocks, along with videos showing how to make TNP.
There is no parole in the federal system for defendants convicted of recent crimes.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.