Dallas terror bomb suspect was jailed on Sept. 11

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by By BRETT SHIPP / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on September 25, 2009 at 6:23 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 6:16 PM

Caught on Tape

Brett Shipp reports

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ELLIS COUNTY - Just days before he allegedly tried and failed to blow up a Dallas skyscraper, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was arrested in Ellis County.

It was just before midnight on September 10 along a darkened stretch of Highway 77 when Ellis County Sheriff's Deputy Shane Thompson pulled over Smadi's Honda sedan, which had been recently purchased from a co-worker.

"This is my first car," Smadi told the deputy in a thick accent. "I just got it."

Thompson found that Smadi had no driver's license or proof of insurance. He told the deputy that he had been having problems with his immigration papers.

Almost everything about the ensuing arrest was routine, as captured on a squad car camera.

Then Thompson heard back from his dispatcher, who informed him that a man with that name and possible terrorist connections is being watched by the FBI.

The tape shows that Thompson kept his cool and stuck to his job, telling the dispatcher he would go through with the arrest as planned. "Unless he has a bomb somewhere," Thompson said, "but I don't see anything."

Smadi was placed under arrest without incident and escorted into the back seat of the squad car.

"I get everything like soon, fast, because I can let you talk to my lawyer and make sure I'm not lying or anything," Smadi appealed. But Deputy Thompson didn't budge.

"I wasn't danger and just go free," Smadi said.

"I can't let you go, because we don't work with Italy [police]. We work under our own boss," Thompson replied.

"You think I can go out of jail tomorrow?" Smadi asked politely.

"Yeah, tomorrow, yeah," Thompson said as he closed the door.

The date had changed to September 11 when Smadi - dressed in a white T-shirt and a baseball cap - arrived at jail to be booked.

"It's sobering and humbling," said Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown. "It's September 11th and he's going to jail in my county."

Brown has seen his share of hardened criminals, but he said after learning of the young man's alleged plan to blow up a Dallas skyscraper, he he can't help but be affected.

"It's hard to describe when you think of the magnitude had that been an actual bomb... had it not been the FBI coordinating everything," Brown said.

Smadi spent the night in jail and bonded out the next day. Brown didn't get a detailed account of just how dangerous Smadi was until the head of the FBI Dallas office showed up in his office the next business day.

"I figured he was there to tell me something; it wasn't just to come by and visit," Brown said. "He made the appointment and came right away. "

The sheriff said that once he was made fully aware of the situation, his office just played it cool, laid back, and let the FBI do its job.

Brown said he now has a new appreciation for just how well the FBI did its job.

WFAA-TV reporter Monika Diaz contributed to this report.

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