In 2009, Hosam Smadi, a 19-year-old man from Jordan on an expired student visa began posting on a Web site known for its radical Islamic leanings. Smadi lived in Texas at the time and, according to FBI reports, seemed determined to act out his violent plans.
Soon, he was at the center of a 10-month FBI sting -- one that eventually supplied Smadi with a fake bomb made to his exact specifications. Smadi then drove an SUV carrying the bomb into a parking garage under a 60-story Dallas skyscraper known as Fountain Place. When he got inside an undercover agent's car and attempted to set off the bomb by dialing a cell phone number, Smadi was arrested.
In 2010, Smadi pled guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison in a courtroom just a few blocks from the building he'd once threatened to blow up [sources: FBI, Trahan].
Author's Note: 10 Terrorist Plots That Failed
In light of 9/11, the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and a spate of other threats, terrorist acts certainly feel like a growing reality. What I was surprised to discover while researching this article, though, is a history of terrorism spanning centuries and ethnic groups. Terrorism is nothing new. In 19th-century Russia, for example, terrorist sought to overthrow the ruling regime by killing Czar Alexander the Second -- after half-a-dozen failed attempts. In fact, the word "terrorism" was first used in 18th-century France to describe a government that used terror to rule its citizens. Although the modern definition of "terrorism" has flipped (it's more likely to mean acts of aggression used to undermine a government), it's no less a threat than it ever was.
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