The Smadi arrest: A case of entrapment?

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by By BRAD WATSON / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on September 26, 2009 at 12:46 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 6:16 PM

Arrest or Entrapment?

Brad Watson reports

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DALLAS - Hosam Maher Husein Smadi appeared in federal court Friday, where a magistrate appointed an attorney for the skyscraper bomb plot suspect after he said he understood the charge against him.

As the case moves forward, the government must prove Smadi wanted to become a terrorist.

In 24 hours, Smadi went from being a 19-year-old Jordanian serving barbeque in a small Texas town to an international terrorism suspect.

Much of this case centers on whether he made that jump on his own, or whether federal agents entrapped him.

The FBI claims Smadi stood out to them because of his unyielding desire to carry out a terrorist attack.

But at Smadi's court hearing, his court-appointed attorney, Richard Anderson, said that's not the young man he saw.

"We have a 19-year-old boy who's scared, who doesn't haven't any family hardly at all in this country, and somewhat of a language barrier," Anderson said.

Friends say Smadi worked quietly at a gas station in the Ellis County town of Italy and enjoyed partying on his time off.

But the FBI says Smadi wrote undercover agents in Internet messages that he wanted to commit violence.

This case may turn on why a person just writing threatening words took action, according to Richard Roper, the former U.S. Attorney for Northern Texas. "The whole question involves whether the government agents put into the mind of the defendant the intent to commit the crime," Roper said.

Sensitive to any apperance of entrapment, the FBI stated in the affidavit supporting the arrest warrant that on April 4, one agent wrote to Smadi:

"In this case, you may perform Jihad in a less dangerous way, such as Jihad using your money, or in training yourself to avoid sins, indignities, and desires."

Smadi's reply, according to the FBI: "I have chosen to be a Mujahid with myself, blood, soul and body."

In July, the agents again urged Smadi to reconsider, writing: "If you have any hesitation in this path, now is the time to change your mind."

Smadi wrote back: "Thanks to God, I am happy and proud to be one of your hands."

The government hopes that is enough proof.

"Or was he somebody who was intent to act, given the opportunity?" Roper asked.

Smadi is scheduled to be in court again for his arraignment on October 5.

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