Chicago (AP) - A man arrested for allegedly placing a backpack he thought contained an explosive near
Sami Samir Hassoun, 22, a Lebanese citizen living in
"He wanted to transform the city of
At a brief hearing Monday, Hassoun quietly told U.S. Judge Susan Cox that he understood the charges. Hassoun's federally appointed public defender Dan McLaughlin, declined to comment on the case, as did several family members who attended the hearing. A message left on an answering machine at Hassoun's home telephone number wasn't returned.
An FBI informant tipped investigators about Hassoun nearly a year ago, the agency said. Grant said Hassoun acted alone and that the undercover agents told him they were from
Hassoun was arrested early Sunday after planting the fake explosive device -- which was given to him by an undercover agent -- in a trash receptacle near Sluggers World Class Sports Bar, a popular bar steps from Wrigley Field, Grant said. The Cubs were not playing at their home field; the stadium hosted Dave Matthews Band concerts Friday and Saturday nights.
The informant befriended Hassoun over the course of a year, conducting conversations in Arabic, which were taped and shared with the FBI. In that time, Hassoun waffled greatly on his plans.
Initially, he didn't want to cause violence, suggesting setting off smoking devices in downtown locations near City Hall, authorities said.
"No killing. There is no killing," he told the informant, according to the complaint.
But his plans became more grand, as he believed bigger acts would command public attention and embarrass the mayor, according to the complaint.
"Little by little, I'm building it up," he said, according to the complaint. "I will shake
Hassoun's alleged plots ranged during the investigation. They included talk of plans to unleash a biological virus on
Hassoun on one occasion told the informant he wanted to paralyze commerce in the city, according to the complaint. Asked how he intended to carry out various suggested attacks, Hassoun responded, "You park the car, and let it go 'boom,'" the complaint says.
Grant said Hassoun wanted to start his own organization and planned to flee to
"He was not highly skilled, but I think he was definitely desirous of obtaining the material needed to carry out his attack," Grant said.
Shortly before the plot near Wrigley Field, the informant introduced Hassoun to the undercover agents who Hassoun believed were friends and would pay for the attack to be carried out.
"We were always in control of this investigation," said Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis.
There have been other cases involving FBI agents posing as terror operatives and supplying suspects with bogus explosives. Last year, authorities arrested a Jordanian national after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he thought was a bomb outside a
Associated Press writers Don Babwin and Michael Tarm in