Terrorism in my backyard

Not literally, but pretty freaking close. Yesterday, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was arrested by the FBI here in Dallas. Today he was charged with trying to detonate a weapon of mass destruction.

The FBI sting culminated in Thursday’s arrest after Smadi parked a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, supplied by the FBI, in the garage of the emerald-green glass office tower that is home to many businesses, including a Wells Fargo Home Mortgage office.

Inside the SUV was a fake bomb, designed to appear similar to one used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Authorities say Smadi thought he could detonate it with a cellphone. After parking the vehicle, he got into another vehicle with one of the agents, and they drove several blocks away.

An agent offered Smadi earplugs, but he declined, “indicating that he wanted to hear the blast,” authorities said. He then dialed the phone, thinking it would trigger the bomb, authorities said. Instead, the agents took him into custody.

How funny would it have been if they convinced him to go the martyr route then, when he pressed the detonator, agents popped out of the bomb like an over-sized bachelor party cake with confetti flying everywhere?

Anyway, kudos to the FBI for a well executed sting. I’ve been in that building a couple of times, but live and work miles away – so I doubt I’d have even heard the blast. Funny, when it comes to terrorism I always figured Dallas would be pretty low on the list of targets. No really iconic landmarks, it’s not like many folks outside of Dallas know Fountain Place, nothing you don’t see in any other big city. Downtown is really pretty small compared to Houston or even San Antonio.

I reckon we do have a Federal Reserve Bank, though, and a big ass international airport. Pretty vibrant immigrant community as well. Obviously, it could happen here.

Naturally, his father has well rehearsed the al Qaeda field manual:

In Jordan, Smadi’s father told Agence France-Presse, the French news service, that his son was innocent and the accusation against him was “fabricated.”

“The charges are false,” said Maher Hussein Smadi, a ministry of agriculture engineer in the town of Kofranjeh, northwest of Amman.

“We as a family never believed in terrorism and we never believed in violence.”

He added: “The FBI fabricated the entire thing to embarrass [President Barack] Obama because of his good relations with Muslims.”I’m pretty sure it’s the CIA trying to embarrass Obama because of his re-opening investigations into terrorist interrogations, but why nitpick? ACORN can use a man like Maher Hussein Smadi.

The most disturbing part is just how normal he was up until he dialed the phone he believed would detonate a truck bomb. Check out the face of terror…


Friends, who knew him as “Sam,” said he lived there for about a year and that he was fun, easygoing and always willing to lend a hand. Several said he regularly offered them rides in his Honda sedan.

They were in disbelief at Thursday’s news.

“This comes as a shock to us; he was just an awesome person,” said friend Tabatha Rogers. “He was good to us.”

He loved techno music, had earrings in both ears, and he was often seen wearing a belt buckle decorated with rhinestones that formed a gun. Rogers said he looked just like “your average American rock star.”

Friends said he drank occasionally and smoked cigarettes.

One friend said they assumed he was from Texas, though they said they knew he was Muslim.

They said he was a cashier who worked long hours at the smokehouse. He liked to play with his neighbors’ children.

“I still don’t know how to wrap my head around it, as far as Sam doing something like this,” said Kellye Kines, 20, who lives at the development.

Another sort of funny thing, the guy actually lived about an hour south of Dallas near where one of the dove leases I hunt. If you’ve ever come up I-35 north from Austin to Dallas you’ve probably seen the concrete caterpillar building at the Italy exit. There’s a bunch of dome shaped huts around it; Sam lived in one of those little domes.

David B. South, the owner of Morgan Meadows, a complex of rental units outside Italy, Texas, had been renting to Hosam Maher Husein Smadi since April 2008. Smadi paid $105 a week to live in one of the distinctive geodesic domes on South’s property.

The landlord told The Dallas Morning News that Smadi was six weeks behind on his rent — and that when he demanded payment a couple of days ago, Smadi informed him that he was moving out today but would pay up later.

Very weird and way too close to home. We’ve been fortunate enough to snatch several would-be terrorists in the past month. Hats off to the FBI for their good work.

I’m still baffled by the WMD charge though. Large amounts of explosives can undoubtedly cause immense loss of life and damage, but I don’t understand the logic of terming it as “trying to detonate a weapon of mass destruction.” That kind of linguistic gymnastics will only lead to trouble. How long before the US is sued in the ICC for dropping a 500lb JDAM “WMD” or launching a Hellfire “WMD”? We’ve apparently got the guy on enough conspiracy charges to jail him for the rest of his life. Why would they even tap dance in that minefield?

Without eternal vigilance it can happen anywhere.

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