DALLAS (Reuters) - A Jordanian national accused of attempting to bomb a downtown Dallas skyscraper must remain in custody pending a hearing on October 5, a U.S. judge ruled on Friday.
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, 19, was arrested on Thursday and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. A conviction carries a maximum life sentence.
Smadi, who had been under intense surveillance by the FBI, was arrested near a 60-story glass office tower in downtown Dallas after he placed an inactive car bomb at the location, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The device could not explode because the undercover agents monitoring Smadi had given him inert materials.
“Unbeknownst to Smadi, the FBI ensured the (bomb) contained only an inert/inactive explosive device which contained no explosive materials,” the department said.
The public was never at risk, it added.
The department said the suspect had “repeatedly espoused his desire to commit violent Jihad and has been the focus of an undercover FBI investigation.” Smadi was living illegally in the country, the department added.
The FBI said his arrest was not related to the bomb-plot investigation in New York and Colorado that led to the indictment on Thursday of a Denver airport shuttle bus driver. (For details on this story see)
In yet another case, an Illinois man was ordered held on Thursday on charges he tried to blow up a federal building in the state capital.
In Smadi’s case, the FBI said undercover agents posing as al Qaeda members were introduced to him and that he repeatedly said he had come to the United States with the purpose of committing “”Jihad for the sake of God.”
At Friday’s hearing, Smadi responded in halting English to Magistrate Judge Irma Ramirez as she asked him if he understood the charges.
Asked if he could afford an attorney, he said: “I cannot afford.” The court appointed a public defender for him.
Smadi is scheduled to appear for a probable cause hearing on October 5, where government prosecutors are expected to reveal details of their case.
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