Man Charged in Wrigleyville Bomb Plot: FBI

Lebanese man also wanted to poison Lake Michigan, assassinate mayor, feds say

By Natalie Martinez and BJ Lutz
|  Monday, Sep 20, 2010  |  Updated 10:33 PM CDT
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2010: Sami Samir Hassoun is charged with allegedly taking a fake bomb given to him by undercover FBI agents, then dropping it in a trash bin near Wrigley Field.

2010: Sami Samir Hassoun is charged with allegedly taking a fake bomb given to him by undercover FBI agents, then dropping it in a trash bin near Wrigley Field.

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Terror Suspect Described as Hardworking, Ambitious, Normal

The man accused of plotting to blow up Wrigleyville is a medical student who just moved to Chicago with his family two to three years ago, neighbors say.
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A 22-year-old Lebanese medical student who regards Sept. 11 as a "beautiful day" is in custody after placing a backpack containing what he thought was an explosive device into a Wrigleyville trash can, federal authorities said Monday.

Sami Samir Hassoun, of the 4700 block of North Kedzie, has been charged with one count each of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Chicago office said.

Hassoun's arrest after midnight Saturday comes after a months-long investigation during which he unknowingly worked with an informant and an undercover FBI agent, officials said. 

In the past year, Hassoun, who neighbors say moved to Chicago with his family two to three years ago, became increasingly unhappy with how the city was being managed.  According to the criminal complaint, Hassoun said on occassion that he wanted to spark a "revolution" in Chicago and "kill the nightlife."

"He claimed that he was trying to force enough embarrassment on the city of Chicago to cause Mayor Daley to resign," said the FBI's Ross Rice.

"I will f*** Chicago.  I will shake Chicago," the criminal complaint quotes Hassoun as saying.

Hassoun, who is a permanent resident alien, in June began expressing to an "associate" the desire to commit acts of violence in the city for financial gain and to cause "political transformation in Chicago."

Those acts included a biological attack on the city, poisoning Lake Michigan, bombing the Willis Tower, assassinating Mayor Richard Daley and attacking police officers.

Two months ago, Hassoun's associate introduced him to an undercover agent who said he was from California and had access to explosives.  Authories say Hassoun asked for ammonium nitrate, electric blasting caps, remote electic timers, shock tube detonators and dynamite sticks.

Hassoun originally planned to carry out his attack on Sept. 11 but settled on the 18th and the Wrigleyville neighborhood -- the night of a Dave Matthews Band concert -- in order to inflict maximum damage. 

On Saturday night, Hassoun met with the agent, at which time Hassoun was given a backpack containing what he thought was a high-powered explosive device.  The agent showed Hassoun the bomb's components and instructed him on how it worked, the release stated.  Although the "bomb" was intended to look real, it was made of inert materials and unable to explode.

Hassoun was then watched by agents as he placed the fake explosive into a trash container near Eddy and Clark Streets -- about a block south of Wrigley Field. He was then arrested and the fake device was recovered.

The FBI said "that at no time was the public in danger during this investigation" and "there was no indication that any foreign or domestic terror groups were in any way connected to this plot.

If convicted, Hassoun faces five years to life in prison.

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