Chicago bomb suspect pleads not guilty

AP News
Posted: Oct 20, 2010 2:20 PM
Chicago bomb suspect pleads not guilty

A Lebanese immigrant pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges alleging that he placed a backpack he thought contained a bomb near Chicago's Wrigley Field last month.

Sami Samir Hassoun, 22, smiled at family members at the start of the hearing. A relative crossed her palms over her heart and blew Hassoun a kiss.

Defense attorney Myron Auerbach entered the not guilty pleas on his client's behalf. Hassoun is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to use an explosive device. If convicted of the first charge, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

After the brief hearing, Auerbach told reporters that Hassoun isn't a terrorist. In their compliant, he noted, prosecutors also said Hassoun had no apparent links to extremists.

"My client's a troubled young man," Auerbach said. "He's a big talker _ a lot of bluster."

There are more than 100 hours of surveillance video to review in the case, and authorities haven't yet turned over much of the evidence on which the charges are based, Auerbach said.

Hassoun took a fake bomb given to him by undercover FBI agents and dropped it in a trash bin near the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, according to the complaint.

It says Hassoun waffled about motives, talking about profiting monetarily and sparking a revolution. Among multiple ideas, he allegedly spoke of assassinating Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Auerbach said his client doesn't seem to grasp how he ended up in jail facing charges.

"I don't believe he realizes how he got here," the attorney said.

Judge Susan Cox set Nov. 3 as the next court date.