Judge to consider guilty plea from Jordanian man accused of plotting to bomb Dallas skyscraper
DALLAS – DALLAS (AP) — A Jordanian man accused of trying to blow up a downtown Dallas skyscraper was expected to ask a federal judge Wednesday to accept a plea deal that would cap his sentence to no more than 30 years in prison.
Hosam Smadi, 19, agreed to plead guilty in a deal with prosecutors to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, according to documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Dallas. The charge is punishable by up to life in prison, but U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn couldn't sentence Smadi to more than 30 years if she accepts the deal.
Lynn scheduled a new arraignment for Wednesday and was expected to decide whether to accept the plea agreement. Under the deal, prosecutors dropped a charge that accused Smadi of bombing a public place.
Defense attorneys, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment late Tuesday. Smadi signed the agreement Thursday.
Smadi has admitted leaving what he thought was a truck bomb in a garage beneath the 60-story Fountain Place building in downtown Dallas in September. The device was a decoy provided by FBI agents posing as al-Qaida operatives.
Smadi acknowledged in a signed statement that he parked the truck in the garage beneath the skyscraper, activated a timer connected to the decoy, then rode with an undercover agent and waited to watch the explosion.
Smadi also admitted using a cell phone to detonate what he thought was the bomb, according to his statement. Instead, the phone rang an FBI number and Smadi was arrested.
"Smadi believed this was an active weapon of mass destruction," his statement said. "Smadi believed the bomb would explode and cause extensive damage."
The FBI said it had been monitoring Smadi after discovering him on an extremist website last year. Investigators said he acted alone and was not affiliated with any terrorist organizations.
In court papers, Smadi's public defenders have argued that their client exhibited signs of depression and mental illness when his parents separated and that he "completely fell apart" when his mother died of brain cancer.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have said that Smadi came to the U.S. on a tourist visa in 2007, but overstayed the time he was allowed to be in the country.