A jittery Hillside man accused of trying to blow up a downtown Chicago bar in 2012 stood before a federal judge Tuesday, his right leg bouncing inside his orange jumpsuit as lawyers contemplated another delay in his long-awaited trial.
Eventually, 21-year-old Adel Daoud asked U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman if he could speak. Though his lawyer urged him not to, he began by telling the judge, “I’m charged with a lot of things that I don’t agree with.”
But then he said he’d be willing to plead guilty to “whatever the hell you want to charge me for.”
“You arrested me because I’m Muslim,” Daoud said, letting his frustration boil over nearly three years after his arrest in the terror case. He insisted there is a plan “to kill Muslims in this country.”
The judge tried to stop him, telling Daoud, “You are not helping yourself.”
But Daoud simply told her, “I’m not crazy.”
Nevertheless, Coleman reluctantly agreed to delay Daoud’s trial until Sept. 30 “for further exploration of his mental state.”
Daoud’s attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, told the judge Daoud was involved in an “incident” at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in late May.
The lawyers let a few details slip about that incident Tuesday. After reading a set of reports about the event, the judge said it’s not unusual for defendants “to be acting out” while they’re locked up, especially with a trial nearing.
Durkin told reporters after the hearing that the incident involved another inmate. He said he doesn’t have “all the information” yet but he wants to make sure his client is “OK.”
Finally, he said Daoud’s comments in court Tuesday “speak for themselves.” And he said, “They’re understandable.”
The feds accused Daoud in September 2012 of pushing the detonator on a fake car bomb in hopes of blowing up a downtown Chicago bar. The fake explosive had allegedly been given to him by an undercover federal agent at the end of a months-long investigation. Authorities would also later claim Daoud tried to have that agent killed in the months after his arrest as he stewed in the Kankakee County Jail.
Durkin has previously referred to Daoud as an “immature, impressionable and naive teenager” and he’s said the investigation that snared him involved repeated meetings between an “isolated adolescent and a sophisticated adult team of undercover agents.” He’s criticized investigators for focusing on Daoud’s “genuine love for his religion, however misinformed as it may have been.”
But Coleman reminded Durkin on Tuesday that his client, who was 18 when he was arrested, is “not a kid anymore.”
“I don’t think he wants to be treated like a kid,” she added.
A buddy of Daoud’s, 20-year-old Abdella Ahmed Tounisi, is expected to plead guilty next month in his own terrorism case. Though he had been scheduled to change his plea next week, lawyers asked Tuesday to delay the hearing until July 22.
Tounisi was arrested for allegedly trying to join the al-Qaida affiliated terror group Jabhat al-Nusrah in April 2013 but he also allegedly began to help Daoud plan his attack in 2012.
Daoud’s lawyers sought earlier this month to prohibit prosecutors from mentioning Tounisi’s arrest when Daoud goes to trial though they reserved the right to “revisit this issue” if Tounisi is called to testify.
Prosecutors said they don’t plan to bring up Tounisi’s arrest unless Daoud’s attorneys make it “relevant.”