Story highlights

Sami Samir Hassoun was arrested in undercover operation

He pleaded guilty in bomb plot

The Chicago man gets a 23-year sentence

CNN  — 

A Chicago man was sentenced Thursday to 23 years in prison for attempting to set off what he thought was a bomb on a crowded street near Wrigley Field in 2010.

The plot was thwarted as the result of an undercover FBI operation.

Sami Samir Hassoun, 25, was arrested shortly after midnight on a weekend night in mid-September 2010 after placing a backpack in a trash container in an area crowded with bars and restaurant patrons, authorities said.

A concert took place that night at nearby Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs. Hassoun thought the bag contained a bomb, but it was an inert device given to him by men he didn’t know were undercover FBI agents, prosecutors said.

Hassoun, a Lebanese citizen living legally in the United States, pleaded guilty in April 2012 to two charges involving trying to set off explosives.

He admitted telling undercover officers he wanted to set off bombs to destabilize Chicago and was willing to attack police officers, prosecutors said in a statement.

The government said the undercover operatives explained the purported bomb was packed with ball bearings to inflict maximum damage and that the blast might destroy half a city block.

“The thought of what might have happened if it (the bomb) was real is horrific,” U.S. District Judge Robert Gettlemen said at the sentencing in Chicago, according to the statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The judge ordered Hassoun to be deported after he completes his sentence.