Hosam “Sam” Smadi once offered praise and loyalty to Osama bin Laden.
On Tuesday, he denounced the world’s best-known terrorist. But it didn’t help. A federal judge sentenced the Jordanian national to 24 years in prison for trying to blow up a downtown Dallas skyscraper last year, mostly rejecting defense claims that Smadi was mentally ill and improperly lured into the plot by undercover FBI operatives.
Smadi had faced up to 30 years in prison under a plea agreement accepted by U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn. He will be deported to Jordan once he serves his sentence, which could be shortened by as much as 3 ½ years for good behavior.
“You got some encouragement along the way,” Lynn told Smadi, referring to FBI agents’ interactions with him, “but your actions were yours.” She added that she “deeply appreciates what law enforcement did.”
Before the sentence was delivered, Smadi, 20, was apologetic, addressing the judge in halting English.
“I’m very sorry for my actions,” said Smadi, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit with his hair grown out to shoulder length. “I could not live with myself if I hurt anybody. Osama bin Laden is a bad man.”
Maher Smadi, who testified on his son’s behalf Monday using an Arabic interpreter, left the courtroom without any comment or visible reaction to the sentence.
Lynn announced her decision on the second day of Smadi’s sentencing hearing at the Dallas federal courthouse. He was arrested on Sept. 24, 2009, by FBI agents who said he dialed a cellphone that he thought would trigger a bomb in the parking garage under the 60-story Fountain Place building on Ross Avenue. But the device was a fake constructed by the FBI.
“The court’s sentence of Mr. Smadi sends a clear message that there is a serious price to be paid by those who may be willing to carry out acts of violence in this country to further the terrorist cause,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney General David Kris in a statement from Washington.
Agents first encountered Smadi, who was living in Ellis County and working at a roadside barbecue restaurant, in January 2009 through an Islamist extremist online forum. For months, undercover operatives interacted with him, and they say he picked the target and triggered what he thought would be a blast that would kill at least 2,000 office workers.
Defense attorney Peter Fleury said he was disappointed by the sentence but believed the process was fair. He voiced doubts about Smadi’s ability to carry out the attack on his own.
“I don’t think real terrorists would have bonded with him like these agents were able to bond with him,” he said.
Robert Casey, special agent in charge of the Dallas FBI, rejected the notion that agents entrapped the Jordanian, who was 19 when the sting began last year.
“We gave him an opportunity after it was assessed that he was predisposed to do this, and legally those are appropriate actions by law enforcement,” Casey said. “He was given several chances in this undercover operation to withdraw from this plan. He chose not to.”
Smadi pleaded guilty in May to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. His defense team argued that he suffered from schizophrenia and depression and was “confused” about whether the plot was real or imagined.
‘Mentally ill’….jesus, what a fucking joke. Yeah, he’s just crazy ’bout blowing things up for allah. He’s sorry he got caught.
Unfortunately, there’s more terrorist recruitment where he’s going. Black muslim radicals populate many prisons throughout the United States. He’ll just get a continuing education in the school of Islamic zealotry. Deporting him back to an Islamic nation-state teeming with support for Al Qaeda isn’t going to stop him from picking up where he left off. According to reports, 82% of Jordanian muslims think suicide bombing in Iraq against Westerners is justifiable and also have a lot or some confidence in bin Laden.
They should strap a real bomb to his ass and set it off.