I spent part of the morning today in Federal Court, reporting on the arraignment of the 19 year old Jordanian arrested for trying to blow up an office building in downtown Dallas yesterday afternoon. I have seen plenty of crooks up close, vandals, racketeers, a murderer or two. I have never seen a terrorist across a room. It was a different sort of thing.
Regular bad guys commit crimes for reasons that are more understandable…not acceptable, clearly, but somehow within the brain’s capacity to comprehend. Money, drugs, anger, passion. This guy, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, had religion as a motive. Death to the west. Jihad, martyrdom, all that. I can’t get that.
He was very small, about 5’4″ or five, skinny. He wore a black shirt, unbuttoned at the neck, and baggy black trousers. His legs were shackled, hands cuffed on the way in, and out. He did not look scared or concerned, even. He looked expressionless, like he was waiting for a train. He answered questions in English. His hair looked wet. In a sting operation, he set off fake explosives set up by FBI guys posing as a sleeper cell. He dialed a number on a cell phone, thinking it would detonate the car bomb he drove into the skyscraper’s parking lot minutes earlier. Instead, he reached the FBI.
We are good to people like this, I saw in the courtroom. Smadi was given options to contest his detention and could contact the consulate of his own country. Even though the government was ready to have a hearing today, he gets a ten-day delay. He will get a translator for the hearing next week. And his Public Defender touched him gently on his back. Afterwards, he said he was a “scared boy with no family here.”
I didn’t think he looked scared. If he wanted his family around him, he could have stayed in Jordan. The Public Defender said he had a lot of investigating to do between today and next week, even though his client was followed for six months and caught red-handed. That is nice, that we do that for people.