'Wrigleyville Bomber' sentenced to 23 years in federal prison

May 30, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Samir 'Sami' Hassoun is a 25-year-old Lebanese national who had a hatred of all things Chicago.

Federal authorities said Hassoun wanted to take out Mayor Daley or poison the city's water supply.

Then he decided that maximum terror could be achieved by setting off a giant bomb near the iconic Wrigley Field. He paid the price for that plot in court Thursday.

Prosecutors played a video of Hassoun setting what he believed was a timer for a huge bomb in court for sentencing Judge Robert Gettlemen.

After authorities were tipped to Hassoun's terrorist tendencies, an undercover agent began a relationship with him and in 2010, a scheme to blow up part of Wrigleyville was about to be consummated. Or so Hassoun thought.

Walking across the street with a backpack, he placed it in a trash can on Clark Street, a spot authorities say he picked for maximum human casualties at midnight on a Saturday and its lack of police or security cameras.

In court prosecutors showed the paint can, with pellets and shrapnel, wrapped in C-4 plastic explosives.

"He talked about wanting to engage in acts of terrorism and when given the opportunity to engage in acts of terrorism he enthusiastically pursued it," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Hammerman.

"And working with these undercover agents who represented themselves to be people who were motivated by religious extremism and acts of terrorism he enthusiastically engaged them and pursued the opportunity provided by them and specifically stated on multiple opportunities he wanted to engage in an act of terrorism and that is what he attempted to do on September 19 of 2010," Hammerman said.

A month after the Boston Marathon bombing, Judge Gettleman invoked the still raw specter of that attack and said that had Hassoun's bomb been real, it would have made Boston look like a minor incident by comparison.

The Government asked for a 30-year sentence, Hassoun's lawyers wanted 20. In the end, the judge handed him 23 years in federal prison.

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