A Lebanese immigrant was arrested after placing what he believed to be a bomb in a trash bin outside a Chicago nightclub in an alleged plot to overthrow the mayor, officials said Monday.
Sami Samir Hassoun, 22, was under regular surveillance and attempted to carry out the plot with the help of an FBI informant who introduced him to undercover FBI agents, the FBI said in a press release.
Officials emphasized that “at no time was the public in danger” and that there was “no indication that any foreign or domestic terror groups were in any way connected to this plot or inspired Hassoun.”
The FBI directed their informant to befriend Hassoun in the spring of 2009 based on information that was not contained in the criminal complaint.
He told the informant in June 2010 that he wanted to “commit acts of violence in Chicago for monetary gain and to cause political transformation,” the 26-page complaint said.
“In particular, according to the (informant), Hassoun had expressed a desire to perpetrate a terrorist act or acts that would reflect poorly on Chicago and would embarrass the city’s mayor.”
The informant told Hassoun that he had friends in California who would be willing to pay them to carry out terrorist attacks and they spent several months plotting what to do.
Hassoun allegedly said in recorded conversations that he wanted to foster a “revolution” in Chicago by destabilizing its economy, undermining Mayor Richard Daley and then somehow manipulate things in order to gain control of city politics.
He also allegedly said civilian casualties would be “acceptable, especially in light of the ‘good’ that could be done if they were successful in the end,” the complaint alleges.
Hassoun was arrested after placing a backpack which he thought contained a bomb into a curbside trash bin Saturday night in the busy nightclub district surrounding the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium Wrigley Field.
“Although the explosive device was designed to look real, it in fact was constructed by the FBI of inert materials and was incapable of detonating,” the FBI said in the press release.
Mayor Daley announced plans to retire from politics on September 7.
Hassoun faces up to life in prison if convicted of two terror charges.