FBI Arrests Jordanian Citizen for Attempting to Bomb Skyscraper in Downtown Dallas
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 24, 2009|
DALLAS—James T. Jacks, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, and Robert E. Casey, Jr., Special Agent in Charge for the Dallas Office of the FBI, announced today that Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, 19, has been arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Smadi, who was under continuous surveillance by the FBI, was arrested today near Fountain Place, a 60-story glass office tower located at 1445 Ross Avenue in downtown Dallas, after he placed an inert/inactive car bomb at the location. Smadi, a Jordanian citizen in the U.S. illegally, lived and worked in Italy, Texas. He has repeatedly espoused his desire to commit violent jihad and has been the focus of an undercover FBI investigation.
“The highest priority of the FBI and the Department of Justice remains the prevention of another terrorist attack within the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Jacks. “In that effort, it is the job of the FBI to locate and identify individuals intent upon carrying out any type of attack upon this country and its citizens/residents. Whether as part of a group or acting alone, persons contemplating such acts need to know that all components of the government are working together to ferret out their activities and to insure that such individuals face the full measure of the law. 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,” Jacks continued.
Special Agent in Charge Casey said, “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. Smadi made a decision to act to commit a significant conspicuous act of violence under his banner of “self jihad.” He will now face justice. The many agents, detectives, analysts, and prosecutors who helped to bring about Thursday’s arrest deserve special thanks for their efforts. This case serves as a reminder of the continuing threats of terrorism we face as a nation and the FBI’s resolve to meet those threats. The arrest of Smadi is not in any way related to the ongoing terror investigation in New York and Colorado.”
“The criminal complaint alleges that Hosam Smadi sought and attempted to bomb the Fountain Place office tower, but a coordinated undercover law enforcement action was able to thwart his efforts and ensure no one was harmed,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
Smadi will make his initial appearance tomorrow in U.S. District Court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez.
According to affidavits filed today with the complaint and search warrants:
Smadi was discovered by the FBI espousing his desire to commit significant acts of violence. Smadi stood out because of his vehement intention to actually conduct terror attacks in the U.S.
The FBI developed an investigative plan to determine Smadi’s true intent while also protecting the public’s safety. Smadi made clear his intention to serve as a soldier for Usama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, and to conduct violent jihad. Undercover FBI agents, posing as members of an al Qaeda “sleeper” cell, were introduced to Smadi, who repeatedly indicated to them that he came to the U.S. for the specific purpose of committing “Jihad for the sake of God.” Smadi clarified that he was interested in “self-jihad,” because it was “the best type of jihad.” Smadi was interested in violent jihad against those he deemed to be enemies of Islam. The investigation determined Smadi was not associated with other terrorist organizations.
Throughout the investigation, undercover FBI agents repeatedly encouraged Smadi to reevaluate his interpretation of jihad, counseling him that the obligations a Moslem has to perform jihad can be satisfied in many ways. Every time this interaction occurred, Smadi aggressively responded that he was going to commit significant, conspicuous acts of violence as his jihad.
In June 2009, Smadi identified potential targets in the Dallas area; but in mid-July, he notified an undercover FBI agent that he had changed his mind regarding the targets. On July 21, 2009, Smadi met with an undercover FBI agent and directed the agent to drive them to a Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Dallas. Smadi and the undercover FBI agent then drove to 1445 Ross Avenue where the Fountain Place office tower is located. A Wells Fargo Bank is located in that building. Smadi went into the building where he conducted his own reconnaissance.
In late August 2009, while meeting with one of the undercover FBI agents in Dallas, Smadi discussed the logistics and timing of the bombing, stating that he would have preferred to do the attack on “11 September,” but decided to wait until after the month of Ramadan, which ended on September 20, 2009. At the conclusion of the meeting, Smadi decided that a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) would be placed at the foundation of the Fountain Place office tower. Unbeknownst to Smadi, the FBI ensured the VBIED contained only an inert/inactive explosive device which contained no explosive materials.
A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged, and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The offense of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction carries, upon conviction, a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case is being investigated by the FBI in conjunction with members of the FBI-sponsored North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson is in charge of the prosecution. The Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division is assisting in the prosecution.