A Chicago man who planted a backpack he thought contained a bomb outside Wrigley Field three years ago on a busy Saturday night was sentenced to 23 years in prison in federal court this afternoon.
Sami Samir Hassoun was nabbed in an FBI sting in 2010 after an informant tipped authorities off about his desire to unleash a violent attacks on the city, according to the charges against him. Undercover agents who met with Hassoun over several months secretly recorded him discussing his plans. They then provided him with an inert bomb after he scouted Wrigleyville and picked and exact location for the Sept. 19 attack.
Hassoun apologized to his family, the court and to "the people who were there that night in Wrigleyville" in an emotional statement to the court.
"I totally accept responsibility and accept the consequences," he said.
Hassoun pleaded guilty last year to charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and of an explosive device. U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman sentenced him.
Authorities said Hassoun never posed an imminent danger – though he intended to cause much harm. His plots, they contend, were intended to cause political instability in the city.
“If the bag that Hassoun left in that Clark Street trash receptacle had contained the type of explosive device Hassoun thought was secreted therein, the results would have been catastrophic,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum in which they sought a 30-year sentence.
Hassoun’s defense attorneys had argued for a 20-year sentence, citing Hassoun’s childhood in two war-torn countries and his troubled life as a young adult in Chicago. In a letter he personally wrote to Gettleman, Hassoun, 25, spoke of emotional trauma from growing up in the Ivory Coast and then Lebanon and of how this led to problems with alcohol and drug use.
“I came to a point where I didn’t feel fear,” he wrote. “I didn’t feel anything, not even death itself.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun