Federal authorities arrested a 19-year-old Jordanian citizen whom they said placed an inactive car bomb today at Fountain Place, a 60-story skyscraper in downtown Dallas.
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi has repeatedly voiced his intent to serve Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida and commit “violent Jihad,” authorities said in a prepared statement.
“Today’s arrest of Hosam Maher Husein Smadi underscores the FBI’s unwavering commitment to bring to justice persons who attempt to bring harm to citizens of this country and significant danger to this community,” special FBI agent in charge Robert E. Casey, Jr. said in the statement. “Smadi made a decision to act to commit a significant conspicuous act of violence under his banner of ‘self Jihad.’”
Authorities said that Smadi was under continuous FBI surveillance. Federal agents posed as members of an al-Qa’ida sleeper cell. Smadi, who was in the U.S. illegally, allegedly told them that he came to the country specifically to commit “Jihad for the sake of God.”
[Actually, that would be Allah of allah akhbar infamy]
According to authorities, Smadi identified potential Dallas targets in June and allegedly scoped out Fountain Place in July. Authorities said that Smadi lived and worked in Italy, about 45 miles south of Dallas.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said city officials were notified of the impending arrest beforehand.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, an undercover FBI agent first came across Smadi in an online group of extremists. Smadi stood out to authorities because of an alleged “vehement intention to actually conduct terror attacks in the United States.”
Undercover agents communicated with Smadi more than 60 times, according to the affidavit. All conversations were in Arabic, which the affidavit says is Smadi’s native language.
“In the named of God, the Gracious and the Merciful, this is my vow to you, my brother, that I am ready,” Smadi allegedly told undercover FBI agents. “And if you were a lover of Jihad as I am, then, by God, I am ready for the Jihadi life.”
The affidavit says that Smadi repeatedly voiced an intent to attack those whom he deemed to be Islamic enemies, including Christians and Jews.
“We shall attack them in their very own homes,” Smadi said, according to the affidavit. “Brother, by God, we shall attack them in a manner that hurts, an attack that shakes the world.”
The affidavit also says that undercover agents attempted to persuade Smadi that the Jihad obligations of a Muslim can be satisfied in different ways. Smadi allegedly responded each time that he planned to commit “significant, conspicuous violence.”
“I want to destroy… targets… everything that helps America on its war on Arabs will be targeted,” Smadi allegedly told undercover agents.
FBI agents say in the affidavit that Smadi indicated a desire to attack buildings housing credit card companies in a “strike to the economy.” The agents also said that Smadi considered attacking military recruitment centers, including a National Guard Armory in Dallas. And he also mentioned bombing a Dallas airport and financial institution within 10 to 15 minutes of each other, the affidavit says.
Smadi allegedly later ruled out attacking the airport because security was too tight and instead decided to focus on a large financial institution.
“It will shake the currently weak economy in the State and the Amercian nation because this bank is one of the largest banks in this city,” he allegedly said speaking of Wells Fargo in Dallas.
Read it all via Dallas Morning News
By JASON TRAHAN, TODD J. GILLMAN and SCOTT GOLDSTEIN / The Dallas Morning News
On Sept. 11, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department arrested Smadi for having no driver’s license or insurance. He paid a $550 fine. No other details were released.
Smadi worked at Texas Best Smokehouse in Italy, which is in Ellis County. He lived nearby, alone in a housing development made up of dozens of small, individual dome structures along U.S. Highway 77. One friend described his home as simple; neat, with a surround-sound system, laptop, weight bench, TV and a bed.
Authorities wearing bulletproof vests and FBI jackets converged on the property Thursday afternoon, neighbors said. Through gaps in the shuttered blinds, the living quarters appeared to have been cleaned out of furniture by Thursday night.
During the day, agents questioned neighbors about how long they knew Smadi and whether they knew anything about his Internet use.
Friends, who knew him as “Sam,” said he lived there for about a year and that he was fun, easygoing and always willing to lend a hand. Several said he regularly offered them rides in his Honda sedan.
They were in disbelief at Thursday’s news.
“This comes as a shock to us; he was just an awesome person,” said friend Tabatha Rogers. “He was good to us.”
He loved techno music, had earrings in both ears, and he was often seen wearing a belt buckle decorated with rhinestones that formed a gun. Rogers said he looked just like “your average American rock star.”
Friends said he drank occasionally and smoked cigarettes.
One friend said they assumed he was from Texas, though they said they knew he was Muslim.
They said he was a cashier who worked long hours at the smokehouse. He liked to play with his neighbors’ children.
“I still don’t know how to wrap my head around it, as far as Sam doing something like this,” said Kellye Kines, 20, who lives at the development.
“I love Sam, but I have no remorse for him if that’s how he is,” she said.
It’s unclear how long Smadi has been in the U.S. Late Thursday, the FBI told key lawmakers that the suspect seems to have acted alone.
“The investigation determined Smadi was not affiliated with other terrorist organizations. That’s good news,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin.
McCaul, the senior Republican on the House Homeland Security intelligence subcommittee, is among the handful of lawmakers who will receive a classified briefing today on the case, which could clarify if the Dallas case is part of a pattern.
“Car bombs are what they used in the embassies in Africa – classic terror-style attack. On the other hand, this could be one of these lone-wolf type things,” McCaul said. “That’s my hope.”
But the spate of recent terrorism cases has raised immediate concerns. “There’s a lot of activity out there,” McCaul said, noting that “traditionally, al-Qaeda likes to test new presidents.”
In 1993, five weeks after President Bill Clinton took office, al-Qaeda bombed the World Trade Center, led by mastermind Ramzi Yousef.
The Sept. 11 attacks that brought down the New York landmark and killed thousands came less than nine months into George W. Bush’s presidency.
Al Jazeera reports that Smadi is the son of the Director of the Department of the Ministry of Agriculture in Ajloun, Jordan (70 km) north of Amman.