Yesterday, the press revealed that Sami Samir Hassoun, a Lebanese-born legal resident of the US, planted a bomb in the Wrigleyville neighborhood right around the time a concert was letting out, when the clubs and bars in the area would be most crowded.
Unbeknownst to Hassoun, the bomb was a fake. A year ago, the FBI had intercepted Hassoun's plans to terrorize Chicago. (These plans included poisoning the water supply, assassinating Mayor Daley, and destroying the Willis (Sears) Tower.) Agents posed as co-conspirators and built a case against Hassoun, which was all supposed to have come to a head last Saturday night. Instead of blowing apart several hundred people and demolishing buildings, Hassoun was arrested.
The news stories (we watched ABC/Channel 7) were all very careful to point out that Hassoun had NO affiliation with any group or ideology. How odd that they would go out of their way to mention this...if they didn't have information on Hassouns motives, that's one thing. But to deliberately say, this early in the case, that he did not have any specific motive aside from spreading mayhem by mass murder, is irresponsible.
It's bad journalism, for one thing. You don't make a statement of fact before you have all the facts.
It's also insulting. Americans are no strangers to terrorism, and we know there is ALWAYS an ideology behind these acts. Even the Unabomber, crazy as he was, had one. Crimes of passion may be committed without sufficient reflection, but going to the trouble of procuring materials, researching methods and neighborhoods, etc., doesn't strike me as the work of a mind empty of any motive.
There are two possible reasons for making the "no ideology" statement.
One, the FBI has far more information than it is prepared to reveal at this point. That may be in order to keep the case against Hassoun strong, or it may be to deny him his soapbox. Videos of Muslim suicide bombers are creepy, but they all get lots of free publicity after they blow themselves up. If Hassoun has a similar performance floating around on YouTube, why give him that kind of platform?
Or two: the media really thinks the public is stupid and will buy that Hassoun was just having a bad day, or a bad year. His animosity toward Mayor Daley is a bit over the top. Yes, we all hate the parking meter system. We all complain about the potholes that take forever for city "workers" to repair. We make fun of what he says, like when he named "Uptown Sinclair" his favorite Chicago author. (Upton's more upscale, but less well-known brother?) As much as the average Chicagoan kvetches about Daley, I know of no one who actually wants this guy hurt--or dead. So that makes no sense.
And, newsflash! Daley isn't even running next term!
Hassoun did mention revolution, several times, but what sort of revolution remains murky....he played coy as to who would actually come to power once the Mayor was out of the way. Except that he seemed determined to eliminate the bar/club scene, so apparently he has some issue with alcohol consumption. Perhaps that's a clue ! I know teetotalers, too, but they usually don't try to blow up places that serve beer.
Here are some excerpts from the FBI complaint that was filed in federal court over Sami Samir Hassoun's plan to destroy much of Chicago:
" During their June 22, 2010 meeting, Hassoun told the CS that he had received a
package from relatives in Lebanon that, according to Hassoun, contained an Arabic language manual on how to construct non-traceable explosives. Hassoun further claimed the package contained certain metal parts to be used in the construction of an explosive device...he claimed that
his relatives would send additional parts"
Hmm....that's interesting! So he wasn't a lone wolf--he said he had relatives in Lebanon who were actively supporting this little endeavor. If Hassoun didn't have an ideology, what ideology did these relations have? Whatever it was, it was violent.
UC (a person involved in the sting):1 asked Hassoun about his motivation for the attack and whether he was concerned about those who would be hurt by such violence. Acknowledging the casualties that
would result from his plans, Hassoun stated that such losses were the inevitable result of “revolution,” but that those costs were acceptable, especially in light of the “good” that could be
done if they were successful in the end.
Right here he comes out and says that the revolution IS being done for a purpose, and that is to replace the present system with one that is "good." Acceptable costs? Inevitable losses? Sounds like he's carrying out his plan to achieve a vision--but it doesn't sound like he's going to be the oagent of all this "good." It sounds like he's acting on behalf of some entity.
During their July 21, 2010 conversations, the UCs asked Hassoun about his motivation for engaging in these proposed attacks. UC-2 stated his purported purpose: “want[ing] to change how our country [i.e., the United States] treats our people back home.” In response, Hassoun stated that he was differently motivated: “Mine is a kind of a different concept than this.”Hassoun explained he saw attacking Chicago as a means of creating chaos to gain political control of the city and its sources of revenue. The proposed participants’ differing motivations did not trouble Hassoun: “We’re the same, we’re the same boat altogether. We’re floating same boat, you know. . . . [W]e’re doing the same thing, but everybody has their own interest. Because you know why? The results of this is a benefit to everybody.”
The FBI agents allude to motives that may be nationalist in character. Hassoun distances himself from that idea, but then says they're "in the same boat." Which "boat" would that be?
It's important to note that not every cause, although it may have features in common with other causes, is exactly the same. The Taliban has different short-term goals than does Hamas. They may (as in the above statement) work together to achieve some of these ends, but the vision for specific changes is not necessarily identical. Hassoun may not care about the "people back home." His focus may not have anything to do with that, it may not be his battle. His field may be restricted to what he can achieve in the US.
At one point during the video, Hassoun stopped a woman then unknown to him, as she was walking past him to ask her about the busiest entertainment districts in Chicago. The woman, a waitress in a local bar who is hereinafter identified as “Individual A,” agreed to be filmed as she named Chicago nightlife locations. Based on his questioning, it appeared that Hassoun was using this independent source to confirm that he had properly identified proposed targets for a terrorist attack. When watching the video with the UCs on August 16, 2010, Hassoun referred to his interaction with Individual A as “like God [was] opening the way.”
This is the most chilling statement of all, and a clear reference to the Qur'an's "straight path." Suddenly Hassoun the random non-idealogue sounds a lot like many of his spiritual brothers, 19 of whom, a little over nine years ago, were more successful in promoting their vision than our friend Hassoun.
Too bad the press was forced to report on this story at all--it's so embarrassing to have to apologize for the Religion of Peace, over and over and over and over. I'm sure this incident would have quietly gone away if someone hadn't been combing through motions filed (you notice nothing hit the news until after charges were brought in court).
Let's hope the FBI stays on top of the Hassouns among us.
And let's hope our media is kind enough to keep us informed.