Suspect: Sami Samir Hassoun
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Target: Wrigley Field
Charges: One count of attempted use of a WMD, and one count of attempted use of an explosive device
Notes: Hassoun allegedly placed a backpack he thought contained a bomb near Chicago's Wrigley Field got the fake explosive from an FBI undercover agent, and talked of plans to unleash a biological virus on Chicago and bombing Sears Tower.
Title: Lebanese Immigrant Charged In Wrigleyville Bomb Plot
Date: September 20, 2010
Source: Chicago Tribune
Abstract: Sami Samir Hassoun carried what he thought was a bomb — fashioned from a paint can and hidden inside a shopping bag — on a street near Wrigley Field more crowded than usual Saturday night after a festive concert by the Dave Matthews Band, authorities say.
Moments before, the Lebanese immigrant had allegedly instructed his cohort to dial down the timer to detonate in 20 minutes, saying half an hour was too long.
Hassoun dropped the device in a trash can just feet from one of the neighborhood's popular bars, turned and headed back toward the vehicle when a swarm of FBI agents and Chicago police arrested him.
In the months before, authorities charged, Hassoun had plans ranging from the grandiose to the more simple, but his goal was chilling: inject terror into the hearts of Chicagoans and undermine city government with repeated attacks.
He talked of tainting the water supply, assassinating Mayor Richard Daley and attacking the city's hot spots downtown and on the North Side, according to a federal complaint filed Monday. And to rattle the city's nerves, he'd explode or ignite car bombs over and over, authorities said.
"You park the car and let it boom," the 22-year-old is alleged to have said to an informant.
But the FBI was onto him from the start, planting an informant and undercover agents to record Hassoun's every move. Hassoun never realized it, but the FBI provided him with the camcorder he used to scout bombing locations, paid him $2,700 so he could quit his job to work full time on his terrorism plot and gave him the phony bomb he left in the garbage bin outside Sluggers in the 3500 block of North Clark Street, according to the complaint.
Authorities said Hassoun wasn't motivated by religious or political views but rather by a bizarre desire to undermine the mayor's political support and allow an associate to take control of the city. He also hoped to profit from the scheme by being paid for his terrorism work by supporters, the charges alleged.
Hassoun allegedly timed the attack shortly after midnight to exact massive casualties, authorities said. He expected half the block destroyed in the blast, they said.
Steven Strauss, owner of Sluggers, said the entire neighborhood near Wrigley Field was overrun with concertgoers and college students Saturday night.
"It's scary to think of what could have happened," he said Monday night at the bar. "You have 40,000 people converge on Addison and Clark" on a busy night.
The slim, unshaven Hassoun smiled wanly at relatives seated in U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox's court for his initial appearance at federal court in Chicago. Hassoun, of the 4700 block of North Kedzie Avenue, was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to detonate an explosive device. A detention hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.
Hassoun's Facebook page listed him as a former student of American
University of Beirut and said his favorite shows on TV included
"Seinfeld" and "Scrubs."
The last entry on his page was at 11:24 a.m. Saturday. "Sami Hassoun working on his business strategy plan," it said.
The FBI and Chicago police said residents were in no danger during the months Hassoun allegedly plotted the bombing and made sometimes vague plans to poison the city's water supply, attack police officers, bomb Willis Tower or kill the mayor.
"He was acting alone," said Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office. "He was not, I would say, highly skilled but definitely desirous of finding the material he needed to carry out his attack."
The criminal complaint revealed that a year and a half ago, Hassoun came to the FBI's attention for undisclosed reasons. Agents paid an informant to befriend him.
Early in June, the informant reported to authorities that Hassoun, a legal resident in the U.S., was voicing a desire to commit acts of terrorism in Chicago. The FBI recorded repeated meetings with Hassoun as he discussed his evolving plans and then introduced two undercover FBI agents who posed as terrorists interested in financing his plans.
According to the charges, Hassoun seemed eager to launch an attack, allegedly suggesting first nonlethal car bombs at the Daley Center downtown, then seeming to warm to the idea of casualties.
"Little by little, I'm building it up," the complaint quoted him as saying. "I will (expletive) Chicago. I will shake Chicago."
Hassoun was critical of Daley, telling the informant that the mayor's policies had weakened security in the city and once saying he wanted to foment a "revolution" in the city, according to the charges.
At one point, one of the undercover agents asked Hassoun how he would leverage the attacks to gain political power. "I have no idea," he is alleged to have replied.
In July, he quit his job to focus full time on his plot after the
undercover agents agreed to pay him, authorities said. The FBI secretly
paid him $2,700 for work scouting bombing locations (Chicago Tribune, 2010).
Date: September 21, 2010
Source: Fox News
Abstract: A man arrested for allegedly placing a backpack he thought contained a bomb near Chicago's Wrigley Field got the fake explosive from an FBI undercover agent, authorities say -- a tactic that has been used in other U.S. terrorism cases in recent years.
Sami Samir Hassoun, 22, a Lebanese citizen living in Chicago for about three years, was charged Monday with one count each of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device.
arrested early Sunday after planting the fake explosive device in a
trash receptacle near Sluggers World Class Sports Bar, a popular bar
steps from Wrigley Field, FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Grant said.
The Cubs were not playing at their home field; the stadium hosted Dave
Matthews Band concerts Friday and Saturday nights.
It wouldn't be the first time FBI agents have posed as terror operatives and supplied suspects with bogus explosives. Last year, authorities arrested a Jordanian national after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he thought was a bomb outside a Dallas skyscraper. In an unrelated case, authorities in Springfield, Ill., arrested another man after he allegedly tried he tried to set off what he thought was explosives in a van outside a federal courthouse.
In a similar case
in May 2009, four men were arrested after they allegedly tried to
detonate fake explosives -- also provided by the FBI -- outside two
synagogues in New York City.
In the Chicago case, the FBI said an informant tipped investigators about Hassoun nearly a year ago. Grant said Hassoun acted alone and that the undercover agents told him they were from California and unaffiliated with any group. He declined to offer specific details about Hassoun's motivations, but said he believed the agents were ready to give him money if he carried out the attack.