DALLAS — Hosam Smadi said he was "ashamed" and "sorry" for trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper.
Those words may have helped him get a reduced sentence — 24 years in prison for the crime.
The judge cut him a break, according to a plea agreement reached by both sides. Smadi could have been sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison.
There was no response and no reaction from the 20-year-old Jordanian as he learned his fate on Tuesday.
The courtroom drama ended the more than year-long investigation into a plot to blow up the Fountain Place office tower in downtown Dallas.
"He pled guilty; he's remorseful for his conduct; he knows he did something wrong. That he'll have to live with," said defense attorney Peter Fleury.
The remorse was seen in Smadi's own brief statement to the judge in which he renounced terrorism.
"I am ashamed for what I did; I am sorry for my actions," Smadi said, adding: "Osama bin Laden is a bad man. I hate terrorism and will have nothing to do with this again."
But prosecutors argued that Smadi's after-the-fact apologies were a stark contrast to the countless number of e-mail messages and other communications made to undercover FBI agents, including a video investigators say Smadi made for bin Laden prior to the bomb being placed that celebrated the massacre of thousands of innocent people.
"We caught a person who was going to commit the criminal act of murder to advance an ideology," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Casey. "He was given several chances to withdraw from this plan, and he chose not to."
Both sides argued about Smadi's mental health. The defendant's lawyers said he was addicted to drugs and delusional.
While Judge Barbara Lynn sympathized with Smadi's tough upbringing, she summed up her feelings this way: "I can't for the life of me figure out what moved you in this direction."
Once Smadi serves his time, he will be deported back to Jordan. Prosecutors said he was not in the United States legally.
Smadi can get up to 56 days a year credited as time served for good behavior. He also gets to count the year he has already served.
That means Hosam Smadi could potentially be freed in 19 years.