Sources say the main reason 24-year-old Sami Samir Hassoun decided to plead guilty was because of incriminating video he took while scouting targets in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Prosecutors would have played that tape during trial.
Hassoun believed the device he put in the garbage can at 3540 N. Clark had the potential to destroy half a city block. According to federal authorities, Hassoun was given a number of chances to walk away from his participation in the plot.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman will sentence Hassoun August 15 at 10 a.m. The government plans to call witnesses to testify at the sentencing hearing.
He pleaded guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device.
The Lebanese immigrant had earlier pleaded not guilty, including to a charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Hassoun was arrested in 2010 and remains in federal custody.
The U.S. Attorney's office plans to recommend a 30-year sentence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.