Prosecutors describe Adel Daoud as someone committed to bringing jihad to Chicago. In court Monday, his attorney described him as "an immature 18-year-old" and promised to contest terrorism charges against him.
FBI agents arrested Daoud Friday evening and charged him with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage and destroy a building by means of an explosive. He had just tried to detonate a bomb inside a Jeep Cherokee parked outside a Chicago bar.
Like many similar sting operations, the fellow terrorists Daoud had been dealing with were FBI agents or informants. The bomb was inert and did not pose a threat to the community.
During a year-long investigation, Daoud was given several opportunities to reconsider his plans, according to a Justice Department press release announcing the arrest. Driving from a suburb to the bar he targeted, "Daoud led the undercover agent in a prayer that Daoud and the agent succeed in their attack, kill many people, and cause destruction," the release said.
He used e-mail accounts to obtain and distribute material relating to violent jihad and the killing of Americans, an FBI affidavit said. That's what drew attention from law enforcement, which saw some of the material he posted online.
An informant introduced Daoud to an "operational terrorist" living in New York. Daoud drew up a list of 29 potential targets that included military recruiting centers, bars, malls, and other tourist attractions in the Chicago area in e-mail communications with the informants.
He also registered with an online jihad-related Internet forum and e-mailed individuals a PowerPoint presentation titled "The Osama bin Laden I Know."
"Osama wasn't crazy for wanting to destroy America," he wrote. "This superpower killed millions of people."
Daoud also praised American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, writing that "those people insulting awlaki can go kill themselves" and prayed that Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year, would be accepted as a martyr.
Court records indicate Daoud's desire to carry out a terrorist attack was spurred by instructions from al-Qaida's Inspire magazine: "I live in the United States of America/hypocrisy. I want to in the future insha'Allah go for jihad in the Cause of Allah….i hate the oppression of the USA and i would love to do something that would hurt it from the inside."
American civilians were "legal targets" for attack, he wrote, because Americans "pay their taxes which fund the government's war against Islam" and they "VOTE for the leaders who kill us every day."
Daoud faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.