A Lebanese citizen and permanent resident alien accused of plotting to set off a bomb on a crowded street in downtown Chicago pleaded guilty Monday, the Justice Department announced.
Sami Samir Hassoun was arrested in September 2010 after placing a backpack which he thought contained a powerful explosive device on North Side Street near Wrigley Field in Chicago. The bomb was an inert device that had been provided to Hassoun by undercover FBI agents. They began investigating Hassoun after he told an associate he wanted to wage violence for financial gain as well as to undermine the city's political establishment.
In a conversation with an undercover FBI agent, who was introduced to Hassoun as a "good friend" and "brother," Hassoun discussed "a series of escalating violent attacks to damage Chicago's sense of security, its economy, and trust in leadership." He specifically identified "Chicago entertainment establishments, civic buildings, commercial high-rises, and transportation infrastructure as potential targets," the plea agreement said. Possible targets for attack included a biological attack on the city, poisoning Lake Michigan, attacking police officers, bombing the Sears (Willis) Tower, and assassinating the mayor. Hassoun eventually selected to detonate a bomb in the crowded Wrigleyville area of Chicago on a weekend night to inflict maximum casualties. A concert was scheduled at Wrigley Field on the weekend he was arrested, court records show.
The government recommends a 30-year sentence for Hassoun. The court can either impose a sentence of at least 20 years but not more than 30, or reject the sentence. The agreement also requires Hassoun to cooperate with federal authorities in future investigations.