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07:21 AM CDT on Friday, September 25, 2009
DALLAS - Police arrested a man Thursday after he allegedly placed an inactive car bomb near Fountain Place at 1445 Ross Avenue in downtown Dallas.
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year-old Jordanian citizen who has been living and working in Italy, Texas illegally, was charged with “attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction,” authorities said.
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September 24, 2009 View larger E-mail Clip More Video Smadi allegedly drove a truck down into the parking garage below Fountain Plaza Thursday believing it was packed with ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which was the same material used to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City.
He left the site in a vehicle driven by an undercover FBI agent. They then drove several blocks away, which was where Smadi used a cell phone that he thought would remotely activate the bomb, authorities said. However, that call went directly to the FBI.
Authorities said Smadi had been under FBI surveillance for some time after expressing “his desire to commit violent jihad” numerous times while talking with a group of extremists online. Authorities said he stood out because he said he wanted to serve Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
Warrant of arrest for Hosam Maher Husein Smadi
Video Slideshows Blogs After learning of Smadi, undercover FBI agents were introduced to him as “sleeper cells,” read a statement released by James T. Jacks, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas. The three agents swapped messages with Smadi.
“By God who created me, there will not be a retreat at all, even if they take me go to Guantanamo for the rest of my life,” a report alleged Smadi wrote under the name “19 Smadi” in March. “I will never forget Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, or any land where the call of ‘There is no God but God, Muhammad is God’s Messenger is raised.”
By May 12, agents said Smadi wanted to take action, writing “I want to destroy targets, everything that helps America on its war on Arabs will be targeted.”
During several months with the 19-year-old, authorities said they learned he had no connection to other terrorist organizations but was intent on a “self jihad” despite efforts of agents to “reevaluate his interpretation of jihad.”
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In June, Smadi allegedly listed a group of potential targets in the Dallas area. He considered a Dallas-area airport, although the warrant didn’t say whether he meant Love Field Airport or Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Regardless, Smadi found security too tight and settled on a bank, the report stated.
Agents said in July he began to set his focus on a Wells Fargo Bank located inside Fountain Place.
“SMADI stated the credit card is what drives America and he desired to attack one of the main locations,” the report read.
“God willing, the strike will be certain and strong,” Smadi allegedly wrote on July 16.
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi
Five days later, an undercover agent took Smadi to Fountain Place to look over the area. Believing the agents were terrorists who would give him the truck bomb, Smadi met them to plan the attack that he wanted to take place on September 11th. But, the reports said Smadi decided to postpone the bombing until after September 24.
Smadi planned on using a vehicle improvised explosive device (VBIED) to bomb Fountain Place at the end of Ramadan. Authorities said agents worked to ensure “the VBIED contained only an inert/inactive explosive device, which contained no explosive materials.” The FBI said the public was never in danger.
“I will plant it in the foundations exactly under the building,” Smadi allegedly wrote on August 26. “When it explodes, it will shake the foundations so that the building, if it is heavy in weight, tons, all that will come down.”
Last Sunday, Smadi wrote he was ready, agents said.
“I’m glad they caught him and I’m glad that I’m still alive,” said Bonnie Braganzn, an employee who works inside Fountain Place.
With 60 floors, Fountain Place is the fifth tallest building in Dallas and the 15th tallest building in Texas. The building was designed by I.M. Pei and Partners and completed in 1986.
WFAA-TV’s Brad Watson and WFAA.com’s Marjorie Owens contributed to this report.
Friday, September 25, 2009
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