A 22-year-old Chicago man was arrested early Sunday morning after placing a backpack which he thought contained an explosive device into a curbside trash receptacle near a crowded North Side street corner, announced the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Sami Samir Hassoun, who lives in Chicago, was arrested, following an investigation that accelerated in June of this year. Hassoun was charged in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago with one count each of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device, both of which are felony offenses. In announcing this arrest, the FBI said that at no time was the public in danger during this investigation. The supposed explosive device was inert and provided to Hassoun by an undercover agent. In addition, Hassoun was under intermittent surveillance as the plot developed and the undercover agents were in regular contact with him, monitoring his activities.
According to the complaint, starting in June of this year, Hassoun, who is a Lebanese citizen and permanent resident alien, began expressing to an associate the desire to commit acts of violence in the city for both monetary gain and to cause political transformation in Chicago. Unbeknownst to Hassoun, his associate was secretly cooperating with the FBI and assisted with the investigation of these alleged threats. Throughout the summer, Hassoun allegedly discussed with this associate a number of possible targets and plots, including a biological attack on the city, poisoning Lake Michigan, attacking police officers, bombing the Sears (Willis) Tower, and assassinating the mayor. Eventually, he is alleged to have selected the Wrigleyville area of Chicago as his target, utilizing an explosive device which he would detonate on a weekend night to inflict maximum damage.
Because Hassoun stated desire to carry out this attack, an undercover agent (UCA) was introduced to him in July by his associate. The UCA indicated that he was from California and that he had access to explosives and the expertise necessary to construct an explosive device which HASSOUN could use to carry out his plot. During this and subsequent meetings with the UCA, at which time a second UCA was also introduced, Hassoun allegedly discussed several possible plots and scenarios in which he could dramatically impact the city and force the mayor to resign. Hassoun eventually settled on a bombing outside a crowded Wrigleyville nightclub as the first step in his plan.