DALLAS -- By all accounts, Hosam "Sam" Smadi's life took a turn when he was about 13 and a vicious rumor about his mother began circulating through their small village in Jordan.
She had been unfaithful to her husband, the gossips said, which brought shame to the family but was never verified.
At school, Smadi was harassed and ridiculed, according to court witnesses Monday.
At home, he and his mother became the targets of his father's rage.
"I hit him different ways," Maher Smadi testified through an interpreter Monday in a Dallas federal court. "I used my hand, a stick, a chain.
"I tried to choke him with my hands to get back at his mother."
Maher Smadi, one of Hosam Smadi's teachers and a childhood neighbor testified during the sentencing hearing, describing for U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn how Smadi, now 20, went from being a quiet boy to a troubled teen who would later be arrested for trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper.
In May, Smadi struck a deal with federal prosecutors and pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of 30 years or less, instead of the statutory maximum, which is life in prison.
Lynn is expected to sentence Smadi today at the end of the hearing in the Earl Cabell Federal Building.
Smadi was arrested Sept. 24, 2009, by federal agents who said he had parked what he thought was a car bomb in a garage under the 60-story Fountain Place skyscraper in downtown Dallas.
Once a safe distance away, Smadi dialed a cellphone that he thought would detonate the explosive device, federal officials said. The bomb -- which had been provided to him by undercover FBI agents posing as an al Qaeda sleeper cell -- was inert.
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