He worked as a shuttle van driver at Denver International Airport, applied for a limousine license, underwent an airport background check, then drove a van for the Big Sky Company and later ABC Transportation. In July, 2009, his parents left New York and joined him.
On September 25, New York Times writer Michael Wilson headlined his story, "From Smiling Coffee Vendor to Terror Suspect, and said:
"according to federal investigators, (Zazi worked on bomb materials) in a hotel suite he rented in Aurora," but unexplained was how he could afford it on his small income along with his regular apartment. Yet, investigators "say chemical residue they found in the kitchen there indicates he tried to heat up the beauty supplies (he bought) to help convert them in a bomb." But unexplained was how someone called "dumb" would be smart enough to make bombs for potentially the "biggest terror case since 9/11," according to CBS News. In federal court on September 29, he pleaded not guilty to all charges, but was held without bail pending trial
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi - The FBI's Third Top Story for the Week Ending September 25, 2009
On September 24, an FBI press release "announced today that Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, 19, (was arrested in downtown Dallas) and charged in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction....after he placed an 'inert/inactive' car bomb" near a 60-story office tower. "Smadi, a Jordanian citizen in the US illegally....repeatedly espoused his desire to commit violent jihad and has been the focus of an undercover FBI investigation."
He "made clear his intention to serve as a soldier for Usama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, and to conduct violent jihad. Undercover FBI agents, posing as members of an al Queda 'sleeper' cell, were introduced to Smadi, who repeatedly indicated to them that he came to the US for the specific purpose of committing 'Jihad for the sake of God'....against those he deemed to be enemies of Islam."
On September 27, James C. McKinley, Jr. headlined his New York Times story, "Friends' Portrait of Texas Bomb Plot Suspect at Odds With FBI." They called him an extremely outgoing young man, who smoked marijuana and drank beer with his friends in the complex where he lived. He did endless favors for them, held barbecues, and baby-sat for neighborhood children.
He also went to local dance clubs featuring Arabic techno music, and at home, had friends over to watch action movies on his widescreen TV. A Ms. Deloach said He "came here because it was really strict out there in Jordan. He wanted freedom." According to McKinley:
"That no one here suspected (him) of hating Americans suggests he was either an extremely talented undercover terrorist or a troubled young man at war with himself, going out of the way to befriend Americans he lived with while, the authorities say, plotting to kill thousands of people when he surfed radical Islamic chat rooms online." Or perhaps he's neither of the above, just an ordinary person justifiably angry about Washington's war on Islam but not plotting a terror bombing to retaliate.
According to his father in Jordan:
The charges against his son are "completely fabricated and in our family we never condoned terrorism." He added that his other son Hussein, aged 18, was also arrested in California, apparently related to Hosam's case. They both entered the country legally in 2007 on student visas.
The Smadi case is a typical FBI sting, much like others designed to entrap unwitting victims, this time with undercover agents, other times with paid informants usually charged with crimes and offered leniency for their cooperation.
One of many earlier cases involved the "Fort Dix Five" - innocent Muslim men convicted of conspiracy and other charges related to plans to kill as many soldiers as possible on the Army base, a ludicrous charge but it stuck. Described as "radical Islamists," the media played along and the result was predictable even though there was no plot and no crime, just a familiar FBI sting operation to entrap them, then intimidate a jury to convict.
According to Anthony Barkow, former federal prosecutor and current executive director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University's School of Law:
"A person (often) is entrapped when he has no previous intention to violate the law and is persuaded to commit the crime by government agents."
Further, US conspiracy law prosecutions can be based on such thin evidence that former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson once said it "constitutes a serious threat to fairness in our administration of justice." According to other legal experts, it let's prosecutors target people they don't like, want to convict to set an example, or simply show government is removing dangerous terror threats. Today, most often they're Muslims or environmental or animal rights activists, and virtually never is a charged suspect guilty. Yet they're usually convicted and sentenced to hard time in federal prisons - the fate now awaiting Smadi and the others when their cases come to trial.