A Jordanian man who pleaded guilty to trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper and received 24 years in federal prison has appealed his sentence even though he could have faced an additional six years behind bars.
Hosam Smadi, who faced up to 30 years as part of his plea bargain, filed his appeal Thursday. He was sentenced last week.
Smadi, 20, pleaded guilty in May to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, a charge that without a plea bargain carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Smadi acted as his own attorney in filing the one-page appeal, which is signed in slanted print and does not provide reasoning for the move.
Neither of the federal public defenders who represented Smadi during his plea bargain and sentencing immediately returned messages Friday. The FBI declined comment.
Kathy Colvin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Dallas, said prosecutors are aware of the appeal.
"It is not unusual for defendants to file a notice of appeal, even after they have waived the great majority of their appellate rights, as Smadi did in this case," Colvin said in an e-mail. "The Department will respond when and if Smadi files a merits brief with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals."
The appeal likely is a long shot because Smadi pleaded guilty and could have received an even longer sentence.
Smadi was arrested in September 2009 after leaving what he thought was a truck bomb in a garage beneath the 60-story building. He instead had been provided a fake bomb by an undercover FBI employee posing as a terrorist. The FBI had been monitoring the then-teenager for months after finding him on an extremist website seeking a backer to help him kill Americans.
In his plea agreement, Smadi said he parked the truck, started a timer connected to the decoy and then rode away to watch the building fall. When Smadi dialed a cell phone number from the roof of a nearby parking garage, he thought he was setting off his truck bomb. Instead, the call alerted tactical agents hiding in a stairwell, who swarmed the rooftop and arrested him.
Judge Barbara Lynn could have sentenced Smadi to 30 years under the plea agreement. She instead chose 24 years, saying she believed he was remorseful and acknowledging sympathy for the young man's tragic life.
During sentencing testimony, Smadi's father explained how he regularly beat his son and then abandoned him in the United States when he was 16. The elder Smadi and a neighbor in Jordan also testified about Smadi's extreme grief when his mother died of cancer in 2006. The boy tried to revive her with a defibrillator after hospital personnel declared her dead, and he later spent nights sleeping at her grave site.
Lynn, however, said at the sentencing hearing that Smadi wasn't "the only person who had been dealt a bad hand" and sternly told him, "You made these choices."
Lynn also recommended drug abuse treatment and mental health treatment for Smadi.