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Illinois man in terrorism case due in court

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi of Aurora. | Handout photo~Tounisi family

CHICAGO — An American accused of trying to join al-Qaida-affiliated fighters in Syria is scheduled to appear in a Chicago federal courtroom.

It’s not clear what issues might raise at Thursday’s hearing for 20-year-old Abdella Ahmad Tounisi.

At the last status hearing in November, Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan refused a defense request to release the Aurora man pending trial.

Tounisi’s lawyer, Molly Armour, had argued her client was an immature 18-year-old when he was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 2013 trying to board a plane bound for Turkey. She said he’s since matured. But the judge said he saw no compelling reason to revisit the detention question.

Tounisi pleaded not guilty to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and lying to investigators. No trial date has been set.