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Jordanian suspected of trying to blow up downtown Dallas skyscraper

September 25, 2009

Posted Thursday, Sep. 24, 2009

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Hosam Maher Husein Smadi

BY MITCH MITCHELL

mitchmitchell@star-telegram.com

DALLAS — Federal agents arrested a Jordanian Thursday suspected of trying to blow up the 60-story Fountain Place building in downtown Dallas.

Undercover agents with the FBI tricked Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, 19, into thinking that he was detonating a bomb placed in an SUV parked outside the 60-story skyscraper at 1445 Ross Ave., before they arrested him, according to court documents. The explosive device was inert and inactive, the Justice Department said in a news release.

“The identification and apprehension of this defendant, who was acting alone, is a sobering reminder that there are people among us who want to do us grave harm,” U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks said in the news release announcing the arrest.

Undercover agents posing as members of an al Qaeda sleeper cell met with Smadi several times while the terrorist suspect hatched his plot to commit jihad, or holy war, against the “Romans (Christians) and Jews,” an arrest warrant affidavit says.

The affidavit says Smadi made clear his intention to serve as a soldier for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, and to conduct violent jihad. But it says he was interested in “self-jihad” because it is “the best type of jihad.”

The investigation by the FBI and members of the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force determined that Smadi was not associated with other terrorist organizations.

The FBI said Smadi was in the United States illegally and lived and worked in Italy, Texas, about 45 minutes south of Dallas.

Federal agents said they discovered Smadi within a group of online terrorists, and added that he stood out because of his willingness to conduct terrorist attacks inside the United States.

“This is not related to any other investigation,” said Mark White, an FBI spokesman. “This is a standalone terrorist. A lone individual who did whatever it is that he did.”

There is an ongoing investigation in New York and Colorado into a possible terrorist strike.

Smadi told undercover officials that he wanted to blow up a credit card center in the United States.

“Millions of people will incur losses,” the arrest warrant affidavit quotes Smadi saying. “Unemployment, poverty, hunger, and a strike to the head of the government. Don’t forget the psychological impacts on the loss of this beautiful building.”

Fountain Place, a 1.2 million-square-foot building, is home to a Wells Fargo Bank branch, Avanti Restaurant, the French bakery café Au Bon Pain, a newsstand, cleaners and other restaurants. A pedestrian tunnel connects the building to the Fairmont Hotel, and a YMCA is across the street.

Smadi is expected to make his first court appearance at 11 a.m. Friday in U.S. District Court in Dallas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez.

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