Terrorist's letter to News 8 shows deeper radicalization

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on May 23, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 23 at 10:38 PM

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NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE

DALLAS — When Hosam Smadi faced a terrorism conviction in a plot to kill thousands by blowing up the Fountain Place office tower in downtown Dallas, he went before a judge for sentencing. This is what he said:

"Osama bin Laden is a bad man. I hate al-Qaida, and I hate terrorism, and I have no desire to be one. I'm sorry, your honor, for anything I did."

That’s contrary to what Smadi said in a video recording he made for Osama bin Laden in a Dallas hotel room as he prepared for his plan of mass destruction.

At one point he said:

"The date of the blessed strikes, September 11, was a celebration for us. So, let us make another date become a celebration of us that history will mark for us."

He was sentenced by a federal judge to a 24-year prison term.

So who is the real Hosam Smadi? That's what News 8 wanted to know.

On two occasions, he agreed to be interviewed from prison, though ultimately the government said "no."

But Smadi sent News 8 a letter from prison, and it sheds a clearer light on who he really is: A self-described "radical."

"I think this reflects that this is really who he is and who he wants to be,” said John Ratcliffe, a former U.S. Attorney and now a partner at the law firm of Ashcroft, Sutton and Ratcliffe.

Smadi’s letter includes a photo that appears to be him wearing traditional Muslim clothing and beard. In a caption with the new photograph, Smadi calls himself "the innocent Jordanian war prisoner become radical in prison after American war and slavery on Islam."

His writings ramble. But he keeps coming back to a hatred of the U.S. government. "Evil and corruption and abusive powers in the hands of thieves," he calls it.

Ratcliffe sees a deepening of Smadi's radical view of Islam.

"I would submit that that is the real Hosam Smadi — not the one individual who, for a few seconds, in front of the person who was sentencing him, expressed contrition and appealed for leniency," Ratcliff said.

Smadi also writes "there is no evidence what so ever to convict me."

But that's despite FBI exhibits showing Smadi driving a pickup truck packed with what he thought were live explosives into a parking lot under the Fountain Place tower on September 24, 2009.

The bomb, supplied by undercover agents, was inert.

Then, pictures show him walking out — past people who he wanted to kill — before he picked up a cell phone to detonate the explosives.

"He's obviously not taken any responsibility for any of his actions at all," said Danny Defenbaugh, former Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas FBI.

But Smadi's family wants him to accept the blame.

In one e-mail sent to News 8, Smadi shared a message from his brother, who wrote:

"If u want to be close to ur god, juz pray and do ur stuff. u can't fight a whole nation to them in Islam its not ever ur job. wat ur doing is haram."

"Haram" is the Arabic word for "sinful"

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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