CHICAGO (Reuters) - The attorney for an 18-year-old man charged with attempting to detonate what he thought was a car bomb outside a Chicago bar said his client was a “immature kid” who is not a danger to the public during the defendant’s first court appearance on Monday.
Adel Daoud appeared nervous in federal court, dressed in bright orange prison clothing with a big mop of frizzy hair and a sparse beard and mustache. His legs jiggled nervously throughout proceedings.
A federal judge granted the request of Daoud’s attorney, Thomas Durkin, to delay his preliminary hearing until Thursday at 3 p.m. CDT (2000 GMT). At that time, Judge Arlander Keys will rule on whether to allow Daoud to be released on bail.
Daoud, a U.S. citizen who lives in the Chicago suburb of Hillside, was arrested Friday after trying to explode a fake bomb provided by an undercover FBI agent as part of a investigation lasting several months, authorities said.
If convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, Daoud faces up to life in prison. His attorney has experience as a defense lawyer in terrorist trials, including representing detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.
According to an FBI affidavit, Daoud used email accounts starting in about October 2011 to gather and send materials “relating to violent jihad and the killing of Americans.”
Two undercover FBI employees began corresponding with Daoud in May, exchanging several electronic messages with him in which he expressed an interest in “engaging in violent jihad, either in the United States or overseas,” the affidavit said.
From late May to mid-June, Daoud sought guidance on whether to carry out an attack in the United States, then sought online resources on how to carry out an attack, the affidavit said.
An undercover FBI agent then was introduced to Daoud by one of the undercover employees as a cousin and operational terrorist living in New York, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, that agent provided Daoud with a Jeep apparently full of explosives - but which was an inert device produced by undercover law enforcement - who was arrested after trying to detonate it outside the downtown bar, which has not yet been named.
After the hearing on Monday, Durkin told reporters that he found the case “somewhat suspicious” and pointed out that some of the incidents described in the affidavit took place when Daoud was 17, thus not legally an adult.
“I find it an odd way to enforce the law,” he said. “I think it’s ridiculous.”
Durkin said that the FBI had taken Daoud’s glasses, rendering him incapable of seeing his father Ahmed seated around 15 feet away from him, and asked for them to be returned.
Describing Daoud as “socially very awkward” he said “if the government is to be believed” the suspect had been spreading “nonsense” on the Internet.
“Does that make him a terrorist?” he asked with Daoud’s father standing behind him. “I don’t know.”
Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Lisa Shumaker