‘This is not justice,’ judge says as terror trial may be pushed to 2017

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A federal judge says Adel Daoud has been held in federal custody awaiting trial for a “ridiculously long period of time.” | U.S. Marshals photo

A Hillside terror suspect arrested more than three years ago for allegedly trying to blow up a downtown Chicago bar might not face trial on those charges until at least 2017, leaving the federal judge overseeing his case openly frustrated.

In the meantime, 22-year-old Adel Daoud might answer to claims that he attacked a fellow inmate in May over a cartoon drawing of the Prophet Muhammad.

Daoud’s terror trial had been set for January, but U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman scuttled it after his lawyers renewed concerns about Daoud’s mental competency. In addition to the attack at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Daoud began complaining in court last year about secret societies like the Illuminati and the Free Masons. He also wrote a letter suggesting the judge would “become Muslim” if she read the Quran.

But as a result of those and other delays, Daoud has spent most of his adult life in federal custody — largely in solitary confinement. The judge has also ordered Daoud into a medical facility for psychiatric screening, but the feds told her Wednesday that will only happen when “a bed becomes available.” When that’s done, Daoud’s lawyers want to hold competency hearings.

“This is not justice, as far as I’m concerned,” Coleman said Wednesday as she struggled to find the earliest possible trial date.

The judge said Daoud’s case “takes precedence over almost any case” at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, but one defense attorney’s conflicting trial schedule further complicated matters Wednesday. Coleman set a status hearing for April 20, and she warned the lawyers involved not to set another trial without considering the implications for Daoud.

“The situation is getting worse, not better,” Coleman said, noting Daoud has been held in custody without a trial for a “ridiculously long period of time.”

Daoud’s case predates current-day terrorism concerns over ISIL, though his attorneys have complained about the uphill battle he might face in court after recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. The feds arrested Daoud in September 2012, when he was 18, after he allegedly pushed the detonator on a fake car bomb in hopes of blowing up a downtown bar. The fake explosive had been given to him by an undercover federal agent at the end of a months-long investigation, records show.

Authorities would later claim Daoud tried to have that agent killed in the months after his arrest as he stewed in the Kankakee County Jail. Then, as a result of the May attack in jail, the feds charged him in August with three counts of assault — including one with intent to murder — and with possessing a weapon inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

The assault case is being handled separately by U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan. Daoud’s lead defense attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, told Der-Yeghiayan later Wednesday that Daoud might try to resolve that case while the terror case is pending. Daoud is next expected in Der-Yeghiayan’s courtroom March 3.

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