Calling him dangerous and a flight risk, a judge on Wednesday denied bail for Sami Samir Hassoun, the man arrested for an alleged bomb plot in Wrigleyville over the weekend.
"It is hard for the court to imagine a more serious crime," said Judge Susan Cox. "The crime had the potential, although aborted, to kill many people."
Hassoun's attorney, meanwhile, denied that his client was a terrorist and said instead the arrest was entrapment.
"My client didn't bring anything of his own making to the incident," said Myron Auerbach. "Things were given to him."
Hassoun, 22, was arrested Sunday after he placed a backpack in a trash can with contents that authorities say he believed was a bomb. The contents -- a paint can fitted with blasting caps and a timer -- were provided by an undercover FBI agent.
Undercover agents providing fake contents to possible terrorist suspects is a tactic that has been used in other U.S. terrorism cases in recent years and is not unusual. 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 to set off what he thought was explosives in a van outside a federal courthouse.
Former federal prosecutor Eric Sussman agrees that the issue of entrapment is not unusual in cases like these and the prosecution will likely focus on showing Hassoun as someone predisposed to commit the act rather than defending the informant.
Hassoun claims he tried to back out several times, but authorities claim they have taped conversations that say otherwise.
In a conversation cited in the complaint, one agent several times asks Hassoun if he wants to abandon plans to set off a bomb, telling him there was "no shame" in walking away.
"Do you still want to do it yourself?" the agent asks.
When Hassoun says he does, the agent asks him again, "Are you sure?"
"Positive," Hassoun responds, according to the complaint.
"I understand their portrayal, but the reality is I think he wanted to make his confidential source happy, and he was given certain ideas and he ran with it," said Auerbach.