A Jordanian man now admits he tried to blow up a downtown Dallas skyscraper in September with a truck bomb he believed “would explode and cause extensive damage,” according to court documents.
Hosam Smadi, 19, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to attempt to detonate what he thought was an active bomb beneath Fountain Place. He was arrested in September in an elaborate undercover FBI investigation.
Smadi, a Jordanian citizen living in Italy, Texas, plotted to the 60-story office building on Ross Avenue, the FBI said.
Peter Fleury, Smadi's attorney, said his client was a nice guy who had previously done anything bad in his life. More than one person told his attorneys that Smadi was one of the nicest men they had ever met, Fleury said.
"It is a complete aberration from the rest of his short life, so that's why it's a mystery," he said.
Fleury said a Bureau of Prisons doctor and another physician had diagnosed Smadi with schizophrenia. Smadi is currently taking antipsychotic medication and antidepressants, Fleury said.
In a plea agreement, Smadi agreed to plead guilty to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He faces up to 30 years in prison if the judge accepts the plea deal. Without the deal, Smadi faced up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to a court document he signed, Smadi admits that on September 24, 2009, he took possession of a truck containing what he believed to be a bomb and drove to Fountain Place.
He admits he activated a timer, walked away, and then got in another car with an undercover agent “and prepared to watch the explosion,” he said in the document.
He also admits using a cell phone to remotely detonate the bomb.
At the time of his arrest, the FBI stressed nobody was ever in any danger because the “bomb” was inert.
Smadi said in the court document, known as a factual resume, that he “believed the bomb would explode and cause extensive damage.”
Agents say they first encountered Smadi on an extremist website expressing his desire to commit violence in the United States.
As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed not to bring any additional charges against him. Prosecutors dropped a charge accusing Smadi of bombing a public place.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn deferred accepting the plea agreement until sentencing, which is scheduled for Aug. 20.
If Lynn accepts the deal, Smadi will waive his right to appeal. He would likely serve his prison sentence and then be deported back to Jordan and not be allowed to return to the United States.
"We think once he pays the penalty for the crime he's committed, he'll be able to return to his loving, tolerant home in Jordan, and he'll never do anything like this again," Fleury said. "He is completely remorseful for his conduct, and I think that's what we are going to present to the court."
NBC DFW's Susy Solis contributed to this report.
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