A judge ruled Monday afternoon that there is enough evidence to continue the case against a Jordanian teenager accused of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction blow up a Dallas skyscraper.
FBI Special Agent Tom Petrowski, who oversaw the investigation, testified Monday that Hosam Maher Smadi, 19, had researched how to use a cell phone to detonate a bomb and made a 7-minute video he believed would be transmitted to Usama bin Laden. Petrowski also said Smadi indicated he was concerned he had not parked a vehicle with what he believed to be a car bomb in a way that would destroy the entire structure.
No dates have been set for a trial or any preliminary hearings.
On Sept. 24, Smadi drove a truck he believed held a live bomb and parked it in the garage underneath the 60-story Fountain Place office building, authorities said. If convicted, Smadi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
An FBI agent who infiltrated an online group of extremists discovered Smadi. Officials say he stood out because he seemed intent on actually conducting terror attacks in the U.S.
Two other undercover agents posed as members of an Al Qaeda sleeper cell and communicated with Smadi. During that time, agents said Smadi continued reiterating his intention to carry out a terrorist attack.
"By God who created me, there will not be a retreat at all, even if they take me to Guantanamo for the rest of my life," the FBI said Smadi told an undercover agent in Arabic on March 19.
Believing the agents were Al Qaeda members, Smadi told them he would have kept looking for such a group, even if he had to leave the U.S. and join Hamas or the Taliban, according to an affidavit in the case. Investigators have determined that Smadi acted alone and was not affiliated with any terrorist organizations.
Smadi's attorney, assistant federal public defender Peter Fleury, did not returns calls for comment. In Jordan, Smadi's father has said the family does not condone terrorism and that his son is innocent.
The government of Jordan has been following the case and remains in contact with U.S. authorities about it, said Jordanian Embassy spokeswoman Merissa Khurma. Smadi is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals.
His father, Maher Hussein Smadi, said his son entered the U.S. with a student visa. But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Smadi came to the United States legally in 2007 using a tourist visa and overstayed the time he was allowed to be in the country.
A student visa would have made Smadi easier to track since a program was established after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to monitor educational visitors. However, such a system doesn't exist for tourists.
Friends and acquaintances say Smadi and his brother came to the U.S. after their mother died. They lived in Santa Clara, California, before Smadi left last year and moved to a tiny town near Dallas.
In Italy, Texas, Smadi was known as "Sam," a kind, fun-loving guy who enjoyed dancing to techno music. Neighbors say Smadi, who is Muslim, let them know when he was fasting for religious reason. But also would occasionally drink alcohol -- something prohibited in Islam.
He worked as a cashier at a large gas station that also houses a barbecue joint, a fast-food restaurant and a convenience store.
ICE officials would not say what aspects of Smadi's case the federal agency might be investigating, but it's likely looking at how Smadi got a job and who hired him, since a tourist visa doesn't entitle a person to work in the U.S.
Mohamad Alhalwani, who operated the business where Smadi worked in Texas, said the manager who hired the young man looked over his documents and saw he had legal status to work. "We do not hire anybody illegally," Alhalwani said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.