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Chicago car bomb plot: Teen charged in 'violent jihad' attempt

September 15, 2012|By Paloma Esquivel
  • Federal officials say an Illinois man, 18, attempted to detonate a car bomb outside a bar in downtown Chicago. It was an inert device supplied by an undercover agent. The city's skyline is shown in this August photo.
Federal officials say an Illinois man, 18, attempted to detonate a car bomb… (Carolyn Kaster / Associated…)

An Illinois teen has been arrested on suspicion of trying to detonate a car bomb in front of a Chicago bar, authorities said Saturday. The device was inert and had been supplied by an undercover agent.

Adel Daoud, 18, was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and to damage and destroy a building with an explosive, authorities said. He could face life in prison if convicted.

According to the U.S. attorney’s Office in Chicago, Daoud in October began sending emails with information about “violent jihad and the killing of Americans.” The emails, some of which were sent to him, included information about jihad, the Taliban and Anwar Awlaki, the radical American cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone, according to a complaint filed in federal court Saturday. At one point, Daoud sent a PowerPoint presentation defending tactics used by Osama bin Laden, authorities allege.

Daoud, who is a U.S. citizen, also used email to encourage others to join a violent struggle, according to a complaint filed in federal court.

In May, two online undercover employees of the FBI replied to an online post by Daoud and began corresponding with him. One of the agents told Daoud he was based in Saudi Arabia, had been invited to engage in violent jihad in Yemen or Syria and was deciding whether he should join. The other said he was a 17-year-old in Australia who had recently developed an interest in violent jihad, according to the complaint.  

Sometime between May and June, Daoud looked online for “guidance regarding whether to carry out a terrorist attack in the United States,” according to the complaint. Shortly afterward, Daoud “began seeking online resources regarding how to carry out an attack,” the complaint says.

In June, one of the undercover FBI employees told Daoud that a cousin -- an “operational terrorist” living in New York -- was interested in meeting Daoud. A few weeks later, an undercover agent who claimed to be the cousin met with Daoud at a park, according to the complaint.

The agent told Daoud that he and his brothers were interested in attacking a major city, perhaps Chicago. Daoud responded that he wanted to go overseas to join a violent struggle but that he also wanted to “do something” in the United States, according to the complaint.

During several meetings with the undercover agent, Daoud wrote up a list of dozens of potential targets – including military recruiting centers, bars, malls and other tourist attractions -- the complaint said. 

He told the agent that the killing of civilians was justified because “you can’t really take these people as regular people. They’re like, more like robots … even the decent nice people, most people in this country” support the war on terrorism, he said, according to the complaint.

On Friday, Daoud met the agent at about 7:15 p.m. and they drove together to downtown Chicago. Daoud led the undercover agent in a prayer that they “succeed in their attack, kill many people and cause destruction,” according to the complaint.

The two men entered a parking lot where a Jeep with the inert bomb was parked. Daoud drove the Jeep out of the lot, parked it in front of a bar, got out and walked to an alley about a block away. From there, he tried to detonate the bomb with a trigger, the complaint said. He was then arrested.

“Daoud was closely monitored by law enforcement and was offered several opportunities to change his mind and walk away from the supposed attack,” the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago said in a news release.  

Dorothy Leverson, who said she's lived near the Daoud family for more than a decade, described him as intelligent, kind and a whiz with computers.

"He's always been a very nice kid," Leverson told the Chicago Tribune. "There's never been anything negative."

She and her sister appeared to be near tears when told of the allegations against Daoud. "It's very scary and it hurts my heart," Leverson said. "I never would have thought this was the way his mind was going."

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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