| A 19-year-old Jordanian citizen named Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was arrested in Dallas last night after he parked a vehicle laden with FBI-supplied fake explosives in the parking garage under a downtown office tower. He is expected to make his first appearance in federal court this morning.
The arrest was part of an FBI sting operation that began after an agent monitoring an online extremist Web site discovered Smadi espousing jihad against the U.S. more than six months ago.
As more undercover Arabic-speaking agents engaged him, Smadi, living illegally in the U.S. in the small town of Italy, about 45 miles south of Dallas, pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and expressed a desire to kill Americans, authorities said.
In conversations with agents posing as members of an al-Qaeda sleeper cell, Smadi said he came to the U.S. to wage jihad, or holy war. He told agents he wanted to target military recruitment centers, but eventually settled on financial institutions.
"I want to destroy ... targets ... everything that helps America on its war on Arabs will be targeted," he told undercover agents in May.
The sting came to fruition last night when the suspect parked a Ford Explorer containing a fake bomb that was designed to resemble the one used by Timothy McVeigh in the parking garage of the Fountain Place. Believing he could spark it with a cell phone, he left the vehicle he was driving and got into another car with an undercover FBI agent to drive to safety. The agent offered him ear plugs, but he declined. He wanted to hear the explosion. When he took out his phone and dialed the number to detonate the bomb, there was no explosion. Instead, he was arrested on the spot.
And good, old-fashioned police work is how they nabbed him. "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 in Washington.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert praised the FBI and the communication the feds had with the local authorities as the case was monitored and worked over the last six months. "We were clearly communicated to that there was not going to be a danger to anybody," he said.
The case also serves as a reminder that we do indeed face a very real threat of terrorism, and there really are people we need to work diligently to thwart in their efforts to kill random Americans just because we are Americans. Terrorism is very real and there are people who will never want to make nice with us. They are hell-bent on Jihad and they can't be reasoned with and no peace can be brokered. So we have to fight them.
And the best way to fight them is with law enforcement. They can do things that a battalion of soldiers simply can't pull off - like send agents who speak Arabic undercover to take in a would-be Jihadi and make sure the bomb he plants is a fake.