Chicago Tribune Adel Daoud, 18, of Hillside, was arrested Friday night when he tried to blow up what he thought was a car bomb in front of a downtown bar after undercover federal agents supplied him with a Jeep fitted with fake explosives, prosecutors announced today.
Daoud was charged today with trying to use a weapon of mass destruction and trying to destroy a building using explosives. Daoud had come to the FBI’s attention this spring after he posted something online, and after an FBI undercover agent contacted him, he “expressed an interest in engaging in violent jihad, either in the United States or overseas,” according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
Starting last October, Daoud started using an email account “to
obtain and distribute material, some of which he purported to author,
relating to violent jihad and the killing of Americans,” according to court documents.
In May, two undercover agents started communicating with Daoud, and in May and June, he sought guidance about carrying out a terror attack. Based on his research on the topic, Daoud “confirmed his belief in the propriety of killing Americans in a terrorist attack,” to one of the undercover agents, according to an affidavit in the case.
During his Web research on the topic of violent jihad, Daoud posted on a Web forum “on or about June 2 … Daoud wrote that he recognized ’9/11′ was ‘halal,’ but requested advice about other circumstances in which Americans may be killed in accordance with the Quran,” according to the affidavit.
Daoud put together a list of 29 possible targets that he sent to one of the undercover agents. “The targets included military recruiting centers, bars, malls, and other tourist attractions in and around the Chicago area,” according to the affidavit.
Daoud met with one of the undercover agents in a park in Villa Park on Aug. 6, and told the agent he decided a bar would be a good target, because, he told the agent, “if we target a bar, like a populated bar, I think it’s usually at night so that actually makes it easier because of the darkness.”
While he was planning the attack, a religious leader at his mosque confronted Daoud in mid-August, and, along with Daoud’s father, tried to convince him violent jihad was wrong, and he should stop talking about it, according to the affidavit. Another person who had been working with Daoud on the plans backed out of working with him because he had reservations about killing “random Americans,” according to the affidavit.
To plan the attack, Daoud spent time with one of the undercover agents, checking the area around the target, and checked the Jeep that contained a fake explosive device on Thursday.
On Friday, Daoud met up with the undercover agent in Villa Park, and they drove to downtown Chicago, according to court documents.
On the way, Daoud led the agent “in a prayer that Daoud and the [agent] succeed in their attack, kill many people, and cause destruction,” according to the affidavit.
The two went to a parking lot where the Jeep with fake explosives was parked, according to the complaint against him. Daoud and the agent got into the Jeep about 8 p.m. Friday, and after the agent got out and walked toward the bar, Daoud drove it to near the bar.
Daoud parked the Jeep, then walked about a block away, and, with the agent present, tried to blow up the Jeep, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. The FBI then arrested him.
At Daoud’s home, a young person who appeared to be in her teens answered the door and declined to comment.
“‘We’re not answering any questions,” she said firmly, standing in her doorway, wearing glasses and a hooded sweatshirt. “‘We’re trying to be civil so please don’t call and don’t come by here anymore.”
Dorothy Leverson, who has lived around the corner from the Daoud family for more than a decade, said Adel Daoud and his brother often hung out with her twin boys, who also are 18.
Leverson described Daoud as very intelligent and kind, a whiz with computers, and someone who always brought pastries to their home for Ramadan.
“He’s always been a very nice kid,” Leverson said. “There’s never been anything negative.”
Daoud, she said, recently had committed himself more fully to Islam and began wearing more traditional garments.
While Leverson’s family is Southern Baptist, she said the boys would frequently discuss religion but it was never acrimonious.
“He was still friendly with my son,” Leverson said outside her home. “It wasn’t like he had made a complete turn. It was never anything like, ‘We hate Americans.’”
On Friday night, she said, their small “L”-shaped block was “flooded” with police cars.
When told of the allegations against Daoud, Leverson and her sister both shook their heads and appeared to be near tears.
“It’s very scary and it hurts my heart,” Leverson said. “I never would have thought this was the way his mind was going.”
Estelle Pappas, who lives next door to the Daouds, said she didn’t have the heart to go speak with her neighbors after Friday night’s commotion, and it pained her to think of what they were going through.
“We’re very close. They open their heart to me and I do the same for them,” said Pappas. “People are hurting. Everyone wants their kids to be the best. I just feel bad for them.”
Daoud was scheduled to appear Monday at 3 p.m. in federal court in Chicago.