An 18-year-old man who tried to set off what he thought was a car bomb outside a downtown Chicago bar on Friday night has been arrested and charged in a federal undercover sting, authorities said on Saturday.
Adel Daoud, a US citizen who lives in the Chicago suburb of Hillside, planned for months for the attack and prayed with a man who turned out to be an undercover agent before attempting to set off a bomb in a Jeep outside a bar, authorities said.
Daoud, who considered up to 29 possible targets, was charged with one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of attempt to damage and destroy a building by means of an explosive.
The inert explosives posed no threat to the public and were supplied by undercover law enforcement, acting US Attorney Gary Shapiro said in a statement. Daoud was closely monitored and offered several opportunities to change his mind.
According to an FBI affidavit, Daoud used e-mail accounts starting in about October last year to gather and send materials “relating to violent jihad and the killing of Americans.”
Daoud e-mailed a lengthy PowerPoint presentation to several people defending the tactics of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and e-mailed himself several articles on Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Muslim cleric who the US said was a leader of al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate, the affidavit said.
Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in September last year.
Daoud was also registered in an Internet forum where members “discuss violent jihad and distribute jihadist propaganda and related instructional materials,” the affidavit said.
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 US, then sought online resources on how to carry out an attack, the affidavit said.
An undercover FBI agent was then introduced to Daoud by one of the undercover employees as a cousin and operational terrorist living in New York, the affidavit said.
Daoud listed 29 possible targets on four handwritten pages from a notebook he showed the undercover agent at a meeting on Aug. 6, including military recruiting centers, bars, malls and other Chicago-area tourist attractions, the affidavit said.
“Early in their conversation, Daoud emphasized that any attack they committed needed to be recognized as a ‘terrorist attack,’” the affidavit states about the meeting early last month.
He told the undercover agent at a meeting on Aug. 23 that he had selected the bar targeted on Friday, the affidavit said. They met again early this month and then on Thursday viewed the green Jeep Cherokee with the inert explosive device at a storage unit in Bellwood, Illinois.
On Friday, Daoud met with the undercover agent in a Chicago suburb, and he led a prayer that the attack would succeed in killing many people as they drove the agent’s vehicle to downtown Chicago, the affidavit said.
In downtown Chicago, Daoud picked up the Jeep that contained the purported explosives from a parking lot and drove it to the targeted bar, the affidavit said. They did not identify the bar.