September 20, 2010 6:20 PM |
A Northwest Side man has been charged with plotting to bomb a strip of crowded Wrigleyville night spots around the time people were leaving a Dave Matthews concert at the ballpark over the weekend.
Sami Samir Hassoun, 22, of the 4700 block of North Kedzie Avenue, was arrested as he placed a backpack containing what he thought were high-explosives in a trash can in front of Sluggers on Clark Street, about a block south of Wrigley Field, according to the FBI. (Read the federal complaint HERE.)
The bomb was a fake provided by an undercover federal agent. "At no time was the public in danger during this investigation," the FBI said.
Houssoun had also discussed other violent plots in Chicago, including a biological attack on the city, poisoning Lake Michigan, attacking police officers, bombing the Willis Tower and assassinating Mayor Richard Daley, the FBI said.
But he is so far charged only with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device in connection with attempted bombing near Wrigley Field. The FBI said there was no indication any foreign or domestic terror group was connected to the plot.
"He was acting alone," said Robert Grant, head of the FBI's office in Chicago. "He was not, I would say, highly skilled but definitely desirous of finding the material he needed to carry out his attack.
"His intent was to kill as many people as he could in an area of town that was highly populated, in an effort to cause as much destruction as possible," Grant said.
Hassoun, who is a Lebanese citizen and a permanent U.S. resident, told an "associate" in June that he wanted to commit acts of violence to make money and cause "political transformation in Chicago," the FBI said.
Unknown to Hassoun, his associate was secretly cooperating with the FBI, the agency said.
Throughout the summer, he allegedly discussed with the associate the violent plots, but eventually selected the Wrigleyville area as his target, "utilizing an explosive device which he would detonate on a weekend night to inflict maximum damage," the FBI stated.
In July, the associate introduced Hassoun to an undercover federal agent who claimed he was from California and had access to explosives. While meeting with the agent, Hassoun discussed several plots and scenarios that would make a dramatic impact on Chicago and force Daley to resign, the FBI stated.
Hassoun eventually settled on a bombing outside a strip of Wrigleyville bars and nightclubs, the FBI said.
On Saturday night, Hassoun met with the agent, who provided him with a backpack that Hassoun thought contained high-powered explosives, according to the FBI. The agent showed Hassoun how it worked, though it reality it was made of inert materials and unable to explode, the agency said.
Early Sunday morning, Hassoun and the agent went in a rented vehicle toward Wrigleyville as crowds were leaving Wrigley Field after a concert by the Dave Matthews Band, the FBI said.
As agents watched, Hassoun placed the fake explosive into a trash container near Eddy and Clark, the FBI said. He was arrested and the fake device was recovered.
The slim, unshaven Hassoun smiled at relatives as he appeared before U.S. Judge Susan Cox this afternoon. Hassoun said he would hire his own attorney for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
Hassoun faces 5 years to life in prison.
Okay, everybody, who can tell me what his motivation was?
A) Somebody who hated the healthcare bill
B) A fundamentalist Christian, clinging to God, guns and fear of people unlike himself
C) A Tea Party Express member
D) An adherent of the Religion of Peace (tm), Peace Be Upon Him