Beware the Fake Car Bombs


The FBI has made two arrests in the last 48 hours in separate undercover operations in which would-be bombers were given fake explosives which they proceeded to try to detonate near major buildings. Below are excerpts from FBI press releases.

Springfield, Il.:

[O]n September 23, 2009, [Michael C.] Finton drove a van containing what he understood to be explosive material and parked it directly in front of the northwest corner of the federal building. Finton got out of the van, locked the door and got into another vehicle driven by the undercover FBI officer and drove away. Within a few blocks of the federal building, Finton made a cell phone call to remotely detonate the purported bomb in the van. FBI agents arrested Finton immediately after he attempted to detonate the device.

Dallas, Texas:

Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, 19, has been arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Smadi, who was under continuous surveillance by the FBI, was arrested today near Fountain Place, a 60-story glass office tower located at 1445 Ross Avenue in downtown Dallas, after he placed an inert/inactive car bomb at the location. Smadi, a Jordanian citizen in the U.S. illegally, lived and worked in Italy, Texas. He has repeatedly espoused his desire to commit violent jihad and has been the focus of an undercover FBI investigation.

In both cases, the FBI said there was no connection to the alleged terror plot in New York and Colorado, though I wonder if they didn’t bring these cases to conclusion as a result of the widespread coverage of the NYC investigation, which was apparently terminated prematurely because an alleged misstep by the NYPD tipped off the target.


David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.