ALLEGED BOMB PLOT
Craig Civale reports
ITALY, Texas - The father of the young man accused of trying to bomb a downtown Dallas skyscraper last week has told the Jordan Times he believes his son's innocence and loneliness made him an easy target of manipulation.
Maher Smadi said 19-year-old Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, known as "Sam" in Italy, Texas, told the publication that he believes the FBI "made my son a terrorist."
The elder Smadi isn't the only one shocked and confused by his son's arrest. Joshua Childress, a former roommate of the Jordanian citizen, said he never saw his arrest coming.
Italy is a small, quiet town just 50 miles south of Dallas. Smadi moved there in spring 2008 and found a job working at the most popular spot in town, a gas station travel stop near interstate 35E.
His easygoing personality won appeared to win over many.
"He never said anything about violent jihad or anything of that sort, no hints about it," Childress said.
Childress said he lived with Smadi for a couple of months after he lost his home late last year. Smadi helped Childress find a home at the same complex where he lived off of Highway 77.
"He even threw down a good $350, dollars for my own deposit for a dome for myself," he said.
The two kept in touch, hanging out with friends and going to parties. But, Childress said he did notice some trouble starting about six months ago.
"He wasn't happy," he said. "He was away from his family, didn't like the way things were going in Texas. He wanted to go back home, but couldn't."
Childress said Smadi's loneliness worried him.
"He was starting to become suicidal and me and him talked for a good long four hours about this," he said. "At the end, he promised me he wouldn't do anything."
The night before Smadi's arrest, friends said they called him to hang out. While he promised to stop by, he never showed up.
Kellye Kines said she saw him that night at work.
"We sat outside; we laughed and joked and laughed, smoked a couple of cigarettes," she said. "Nothing was out of the ordinary."
But, she said over the last few months, Smadi had been keeping his distance.
"Every day we did something at somebody's house and hung out," Kines said. "And in last couple of months, it just started to be less and less. He stopped calling and stopped coming over."
Kines said Smadi tried too hard to fit in at time.
"Sam was way more a follower than a leader," Kines said. "That's what gets me. I can't see how he acted alone in all of this and did it by himself. It doesn't make sense."
Friends who opened their homes and hearts to Smadi say questions linger.
"If I can see Sam again, I would ask him one question and that would be if all of us close friends were in that building at the time would he still call the number to detonate that bomb?" Childress said.
A former employee where Smadi worked said Smadi got the job at the gas station with a California driver's license. Smadi said he needed the job because he lost everything in a fire.
The father of the young man accused of trying to bomb a downtown Dallas skyscraper last week has told the Jordan Times he believes his son's innocence and loneliness made him an easy target of manipulation.