CHICAGO — A multiday sentencing hearing focused on whether undercover FBI agents egged on a teenager to participate in a terrorist plot knowing he was mentally ill began Monday in Chicago.
Agents arrested the now-25-year-old Adel Daoud in a 2012 sting after he tried to detonate what he believed was a real bomb outside a crowded Chicago bar.
The hearing will proceed like a mini-trial in which evidence that was not made public before will be put on the record for the judge to decide Daoud's fate.
Daoud, of Hillside, Ill., was temporarily deemed mentally unfit in 2016 after declaring Illuminati and "reptilian overlords" were after him. He entered a no-contest plea in November.
A FBI agent spent most of the day on the stand testifying and reading aloud online posts, emails and texts written by Daoud from 2012 — just a few months before he parked what he thought was a car bomb outside a downtown Chicago bar and expecting it to explode killing dozens. Prosecutors said he would have been fulfilling his desire to be a terrorist.
In his online writing, a then-17-year-old Daoud praised other well-known terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, and referred to killings as "charity work," and "having a lot of fun killing the enemies of Allah."
Unbeknownst to Daoud, he was communicating with FBI employees. He eventually connected with an FBI agent who was posing as a terrorist. Prosecutors said Daould told the agent he was finally doing what he had been preaching.
The agent claimed that Daoud pushed the button twice, trying to detonate the car bomb, not realizing that it was fake.
Last year, six years after he was arrested, the court allowed Daoud to enter an Alford plea — it’s a guilty plea, but the defendant doesn’t actually admit to the criminal act in which he’s accused and actually claims his innocence.
In a memo to the court, the defense claimed Daoud was naïve and impressionable, and fell into an FBI trap and didn’t have the capability of carrying out an attack without help. The defense also said that Daoud didn’t want to detonate the bomb — until the undercover FBI agent convinced him to.
The defense wants Daoud freed as soon as a mental health program can be tailored for him. His attorneys are also asking that he be released in 2021 in time for him to enroll in college in the fall.
Prosecutors want a 40-year prison term, saying Daoud "needed no convincing to kill."Prosecutors are asking for 40 years.
Daoud is also accused of trying to have the undercover FBI agent on his case killed. He’s also accused of trying to kill a fellow inmate because he drew a picture of the Prophet Muhammad.
The hearing is expected to continue until Wednesday. It will resume at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday.