Hillside Teen Adel Daoud To Appear In Court Monday After Attempted Chicago Car Bomb Attack
September 16, 2012, Downers Grove, IL — An 18-year-old from Hillside is expected to appear in federal court Monday after being arrested Friday during an undercover operation where agents pretending to be extremists gave him a fake car bomb that he planned to blow up outside a downtown Chicago bar.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a release that the bomb was inert and the public was never in danger.
The teen, Adel Daoud of Hillside, was charged in court Saturday with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage and destroy a building with an explosive.
Phone calls to Daoud's parents' home in Hillside were not returned. As the news spread late Saturday afternoon, TV news crews were outside the home on Westwood Drive. The garage was closed, as were the home's doors and windows.
Daoud’s older brother, Amr, 21, told the New York Times that he and his family were surprised by the arrest. A devout Muslim, Amr Daoud said his brother went to mosque for prayers with their father every day at 4 a.m. He said their parents came to the United States from Egypt, but neither his parents nor his two sisters were as religious.
He said Adel wanted to go to school in Canada to become a sheikh, a Muslim religious official.
“He’s a very peaceful guy; I never even knew him to be violent,” Amr Daoud told the Times. “One time he got punched in school, and he didn’t do anything. He’s a very passive person.”
According to one report, Adel Daoud graduated from the Islamic Foundation high school in Villa Park and still attended prayers there.
Meanwhile, according to reports, the FBI began watching Daoud after he posted material online about "violent jihad" and killing Americans.
In October 2011, according to the complaint against him, Daoud began using an e-mail account to obtain and distribute material related to violent jihad and the killing of Americans. He also allegedly used the same account to encourage others to support violent jihad.
One e-mail Daoud sent to several people included a PowerPoint presentation he made reviewing a book supporting Osama bin Laden, according to the complaint. Daoud allegedly wrote: "Osama wasn't crazy for wanting to destroy America. This superpower killed millions of people."
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice in Chicago, Daoud's arrest was the result of an undercover operation during which he developed his attack plans and surveilled and selected a target. The release said Daoud was closely monitored by law enforcement and was offered several chances to change his mind and walk away from the supposed attack.
Two FBI undercover agents contacted Daoud in May in response to material he posted online, according to the criminal complaint. From late-May to mid-June, Daoud allegedly sought guidance regarding whether to carry out a terrorist attack in the U.S., relying mostly on online resources.
On May 31, Daoud posted to a jihad-related internet forum, saying he "hate[d] the oppression of the USA" and "would love to do something that would hurt it from the inside," according to the criminal complaint.
Between May 29 and June 15, a computer in Daoud's home was used to watch a number of online videos and search topics related to jihad, the complaint said.
On June 3, one of the undercover agents asked if he had friends in America who supported jihad too, and Daoud allegedly replied he knew "a few brothers who support jihad" and he was trying to "'brainwash' more brothers into supporting it," according to the complaint.
The other agent told Daoud about a supposed cousin he had in New York who was an operational terrorist. Daoud allegedly expressed interest in meeting the cousin, who was actually another undercover FBI agent, the complaint said.
Between July 17 and Sept. 14, Daoud met with the third agent six times and exchanged several electronic communications, according to the complaint. During that time, Daoud allegedly selected a target for the attack in Chicago and also tried to recruit others to participate.
On July 17, Daoud met with the agent at Prairie Path Park in Villa Park, the complaint said. During the meeting, Daoud allegedly said that he was interested in engaging in terrorism both in the U.S. and overseas.
The two met again Aug. 6 and discussed plans to carry out an attack in the Chicago area using a vehicle containing explosives, the complaint said. Daoud provided a list of 29 targets, which included military recruiting centers, bars, malls and other tourist attractions.
Daoud allegedly emphasized that the attack needed to be recognized as a "terrorist attack," saying "it'll be like frantic," according to the complaint.
Daoud also said he wanted "to get the most evil place" but at the same time, "a more populated place," the complaint said.
On Aug. 18, Daoud exchanged a series of electronic communications with the agent, describing how he’d been talking abut jihad with a someone at their mosque — a conversation that someone else overheard and reported to the sheikh, according to the complaint. The sheikh called the two men to a meeting and "yelled" at them. Daoud's father was also informed about the incident and told Daoud to stop talking about the topics, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, a second sheikh became involved and tried convincing Daoud that engaging in violent jihad was wrong. The person who’d been talking to Daoud at the mosque allegedly backed out of the plans after the interventions.
During subsequent communications, the undercover agent told Daoud his sheikh was concerned about Daoud's commitment to the operation and wanted to confirm that he had "no doubt in [his] heart," the complaint said.
In his reply, Daoud allegedly said he was "convinced" and "totally fine with this." He said he wasn't doing it for anyone else and called himself the "top of the brainwashing crew," according to the complaint.
In subsequent meetings, Daoud and the undercover agent finalized plans for the car-bomb plot in Chicago, the complaint said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement that at about 7:15 p.m. Friday, Daoud met the agent in Villa Park and drove to downtown Chicago. Reports said that during the drive, Daoud led the agent in a prayer that they succeed in the attack, kill several people and cause destruction.
Once downtown, the statement said, they entered a parking lot where a Jeep loaded with the purported explosive device was parked. Daoud drove the Jeep out of the lot and parked in front of a downtown bar that he'd selected beforehand. According to reports, Daoud got out of the vehicle and walked into an alley about a block away. With the undercover agent watching, he attempted to detonate the bomb by pressing the triggering mechanism and was then arrested.
As word spread Saturday in Daoud's neighborhood, where the street was dotted by journalists and camera crews, some who knew the family found the news hard to believe. Estelle Pappas — who lives next door to the family and has been in the same house for 24 years — called Daoud a good kid from a good family. She recalled times when he helped her start her lawn mower when her husband wasn't around and said the family — which includes two daughters and another son — often pass out pastries to neighbors during holidays.
"They're good people to us," she said. "In my eyes and in my heart, they're good people."
Sweetie Leverson, another neighbor, also called the news a "big shock to all."
She said her nephews played video games and basketball with Daoud when they were younger.
Other members of the Muslim community have spoken out against Daoud’s alleged actions, saying they are not a part of Islamic teaching.
“We strongly denounce these planned acts of violence in Chicago. We categorically reject terrorism,” said Haris Ahmed, director of public affairs at the Chicago West Chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Glen Ellyn. “Individuals like Adel Daoud fail to understand that terrorism of any form is against Islamic teachings and practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.”
Daoud is scheduled for a preliminary court hearing at 3 p.m. Monday.
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