Texas terrorism suspect Hosam Smadi recorded a seven-minute video message for al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden before his arrest on charges of plotting to blow up a Dallas building, an FBI agent testified Monday.
No details of the message were provided in court. But FBI Special Agent Thomas Petrowski said the video was recorded in a hotel room with the assistance of undercover FBI operatives and Smadi intended for it to be delivered to or seen by bin Laden, the fugitive leader of the terrorist network behind the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Smadi, a 19-year-old Jordanian living in the United States illegally, is charged with plotting to set off a bomb at the base of the 60-story Fountain Plaza office tower in downtown Dallas. He was arrested September 24 after federal agents said he tried to trigger an improvised bomb attached to a vehicle at the base of the building. At a brief hearing in Dallas on Monday, Magistrate Judge Irma Ramirez ordered Smadi bound over for future hearings. Peter Fleury, the public defender representing Smadi, told reporters that his client remains held under immigration law, with no bail set.
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Fleury called his client “a scared 19-year-old kid held away from his family,” who could face additional charges from a grand jury. Prosecutors don’t have to share the evidence against Smadi until after a grand jury acts, so lawyers don’t know the full extent of the case against him, Fleury said. “We have got a lot of work to do,” he said. “They have had the case since March. We just got the case. We’re way behind them.” Friends in the town of Italy, Texas, about 45 miles south of Dallas, said Smadi was outgoing and friendly — but one told CNN last week that the teen started showing signs of depression about six months ago, around the same time the FBI started believing he was serious about carrying out a bomb plot.