The undercover operation that led to the arrest Thursday of a 19-year-old Jordanian citizen – intent, according to authorities, on blowing up a Dallas skyscraper – may reflect a different approach by the FBI to terrorism investigations, sys the Dallas Morning News. About two years ago, said Jeffrey Addicott of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, “a decision was made that we’re going to let these things develop a little bit longer so we can get the more serious offense. And we’ve seen the fruits of that.”
Federal agents arrested Hosam Maher Husein Smadi after a sting operation that lasted several months. Smadi is accused of parking a government-supplied sport utility vehicle loaded with fake explosives in downtown Dallas and making a call that he thought would set off the device; instead, he was promptly taken into custody. In a similar case, apparently unrelated, a man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of trying to blow up the federal courthouse in Springfield, Il. – with a fake bomb provided by agents. Several other recent terrorism cases have involved lengthy undercover operations, including an investigation into a plot to attack soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., and one in South Florida that exposed a plot to attack several targets in the U.S. Giving terrorism suspects a longer leash while they are closely monitored, law-enforcement experts say, can pay off – both in terms of identifying their contacts, who also may be plotting attacks, and strengthening the criminal cases against them.