A man arrested for allegedly placing a backpack he thought contained an explosive near the Chicago's Wrigley Field also talked about poisoning Lake Michigan, bombing a landmark skyscraper and assassinating Mayor Richard Daley, according to a federal complaint filed Monday.
Sami Samir Hassoun, 22, a Lebanese citizen living in Chicago, was charged with one count each of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device.
"He wanted to transform the city of Chicago, he wanted to make a statement and he wanted to replace the mayor of Chicago," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Grant. "He was unhappy with the way the city was running. He was also unhappy with things that were happening in other parts of world."
At a brief hearing Monday, Hassoun quietly told U.S. Judge Susan Cox that he understood the charges. Hassoun's federally appointed public defender Dan McLaughlin, declined to comment on the case, as did several family members who attended the hearing. A message left on an answering machine at Hassoun's home telephone number wasn't returned.
An FBI informant tipped investigators about Hassoun nearly a year ago, the agency said. Grant said Hassoun acted alone and that the undercover agents told him they were from California and unaffiliated with any group. He declined to offer specific details about Hassoun's motivations, but said believed the agents were ready to give him money if he carried out the attack.
Hassoun was arrested early Sunday after planting the fake explosive device which was given to him by an undercover agent in a trash receptacle near Sluggers World Class Sports Bar, a popular bar steps from Wrigley Field, Grant said. The Cubs were not playing at their home field; the stadium hosted Dave Matthews Band concerts Friday and Saturday nights.
Hassoun on one occasion told an FBI informant he wanted to paralyze commerce in the city, according to the complaint against him. Asked how he intended to carry out various suggested attacks, Hassoun responded, "You park the car, and let it go 'boom,"' the complaint says.
Hassoun's alleged plots including talk of plans to unleash a biological virus on Chicago ranged during the investigation. Grant said Hassoun wanted to start his own organization.
"He was not highly skilled, but I think he was definitely desirous of obtaining the material needed to carry out his attack," Grant said.
Chicago authorities said Daley never was in any danger. Police said Daley who has been in China for a business trip was informed of the plot over the weekend.
"We were always in control of this investigation," said Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis.