Details emerge of undercover operation against Chicago teen

The investigation started months ago, when the FBI noticed an email message: A man in the Chicago suburbs was using an account to distribute chatter about violent jihad and the killing of Americans.

HILLSIDE, Ill. — The investigation started months ago, when the FBI noticed an email message: A man in the Chicago suburbs was using an account to distribute chatter about violent jihad and the killing of Americans.

Two undercover agents reached out and began to talk to him online. In May, they introduced him to another agent who claimed to be a terrorist living in New York.

The operation ended Friday night, an affidavit describing it says, when the man was arrested and accused of trying to detonate what he believed was a car bomb outside of a Chicago bar. Prosecutors said an undercover agent gave Adel Daoud, a U.S. citizen from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, a phoney car bomb and watched him press the trigger.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, which announced the arrest Saturday, said the device was harmless and the public was never at risk. Daoud, 18, is due to make an appearance in federal court Monday afternoon on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage and destroy a building with an explosive.

“We don’t even know anything. We don’t know that much. We know as little as you do,” a woman who answered the phone at his home and identified herself as his sister, Hiba, said Saturday. “They’re just accusations. … We’d like to be left alone.”

Daoud’s father, Ahmed Daoud, declined to comment on Sunday.

“We don’t know anything about it,” he said when reached by phone.

The FBI often uses similar tactics in counterterrorism investigations, deploying undercover agents to engage suspects in talk of terror plots and then provide fake explosive devices.

In 2010, a Lebanese immigrant took what he thought was a bomb and dropped it into a trash bin near Chicago’s Wrigley Field. In a 2009 case, agents provided a Jordanian man with a fake truck bomb that he used to try to blow up a 60-story office tower in Dallas.

This operation unfolded much like the others. After Daoud began talking to the undercover agents, an affidavit says, the third agent and Daoud met six times in the suburb of Villa Park over the summer and exchanged messages. Daoud then set about identifying 29 potential targets, including military recruiting centres, bars, malls and tourist attractions in Chicago, the document said.

After he settled on a downtown bar, he conducted surveillance on it by using Google Street View and visiting the area in person to take photographs, the affidavit said. The document does not identify the bar, but says he told the agent it was also a concert venue by a liquor store.

“It’s a bar, it’s a liquor store, it’s a concert. All in one bundle,” the document quotes him as saying. It said he noted the bar would be filled with the “evilest people … kuffars.” Kuffar is the Arabic term for non-believer.

Shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, the affidavit said, Daoud met with the undercover agent in Villa Park and they drove to downtown Chicago, where the restaurants and bars were packed. They entered a parking lot where a Jeep Cherokee containing the phoney bomb was parked, the document says.

Daoud drove the vehicle and parked it in front of the bar, then walked a block away and attempted to detonate the device by pressing a triggering mechanism, the affidavit says. He was then arrested.

A neighbour, Harry Pappas, said that a dozen unmarked cars drove up to the family’s house on Friday night and several agents went inside. On Saturday, no one answered the door of the family’s two-story home, which had a well-kept garden in the yard and a basketball hoop in the driveway. The house faces a Lutheran church; a Greek Orthodox church also is nearby.

Pappas said he was shocked by the arrest, calling Daoud’s parents “wonderful” people.

Prosecutors said Daoud was offered several chances to change his mind and walk away from the plot.

The affidavit said Daoud was active in jihadist Internet forums and was accessing articles written by Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical cleric who became a key figure in the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last year.

The FBI says he also was searching online for information on making bombs and reading “Inspire,” the English-language online magazine published by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

In his conversations with the undercover agent, Daoud explained his reasons for wanting to launch an attack, saying the United States was at war “with Islam and Muslims,” the affidavit said.

According to the document, he said he was trying to recruit others and that he was confronted by leaders of his mosque who warned he should stop talking about jihad. The affidavit said Daoud’s father also had been informed that Daoud was debating jihad and told Daoud to stop talking about it.

Daoud also told the agent he wanted an attack that would kill many people, the document said.

“I want something that’s gonna make it in the news,” he said, according to the affidavit. “I want to get to like, for me I want to get the most evil place, but I want to get a more populated place.”

Just Posted

Case of former MLA accused of sex assault, interference back in court next month

Former Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntyre’s case to return to court on April 19

Fog advisory for Central Alberta

Fog will dissipate later this morning

WATCH: Hundreds come to Red Deer Rebels Fan Fest

The Red Deer Rebels met with legions of their of fans just… Continue reading

Red Deer GoodLife no longer installing pool

Red Deer GoodLife Fitness members itching to swim will need to find… Continue reading

WATCH: Hundreds come to Red Deer Rebels Fan Fest

The Red Deer Rebels met with legions of their of fans just… Continue reading

Excavator frees dolphins trapped by pack ice in Newfoundland harbour

HEARTS DELIGHT, N.L. — A pod of dolphins trapped by pack ice… Continue reading

Structure fire destroys home in Mirror

A house in Mirror is completely damaged due to an overnight fire… Continue reading

Trudeau warns senators not to thwart will of Canadians on marijuana bill

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reminding senators that his government… Continue reading

Burgers outselling classic baguette sandwiches in France

PARIS — Forget the baguette. The French are going crazy for burgers.… Continue reading

Can Zuckerberg’s media blitz take the pressure off Facebook?

NEW YORK — In the wake of a privacy scandal involving a… Continue reading

Brace for more red ink, no good plan for balance in Alberta budget: opposition

EDMONTON — Opposition parties say Albertans should brace for a provincial budget… Continue reading

Police: Austin bomber’s motive still unknown, despite video

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — A 25-minute cellphone video left behind by the bomber… Continue reading

Facebook crisis-management lesson: What not to do

NEW YORK — The crisis-management playbook is pretty simple: Get ahead of… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month