Feds say plotting to kill hundreds is not just ‘what teenage boys do’ in appeal for tougher sentence in terror case

Prosecutors say the judge didn’t take what Adel Daoud did in 2012 — trying but failing to set off a 1000-pound car bomb in the Loop — seriously enough. They want more time added to his 16-year sentence.

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Adel Daoud | File photo

Adel Daoud

File photo

Prosecutors say the 16-year sentence a federal judge handed last year to a Hillside man who in 2012 tried to set off a 1,000-pound car bomb in the Loop “was substantively unreasonable” and showed “a lack of appreciation” for his crimes.

In a 66-page brief made public early Thursday, prosecutors asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the prison term U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman gave last spring to Adel Daoud. They want the appellate court to send Daoud back to Coleman’s courtroom for a do-over.

They argued that Coleman characterized Daoud’s 2012 crime, committed when he was 18, as “the product of immaturity, neediness, braggadocio, and simply ‘what teenage boys do.’”

“Plotting to kill hundreds of innocent people is not ‘what teenage boys do,’” they argued.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed notice in June that it would take the unusual step of appealing Daoud’s sentence. Daoud’s attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, described the decision at the time as “tone deaf.”

“This is a cruel, wrong-headed and stupid decision,” Durkin said then, “and it is nothing more than the U.S. Attorney’s Office protecting itself and the FBI from the decisions it made in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

Daoud’s response to the government is due next month.

Daoud, now 26, has been at the center of a long-running legal saga at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. It began in September 2012, when the feds say he set out to commit mass murder using a car bomb that reeked of gasoline and was filled with wiring and “bags and bags of fertilizer.” But the person who gave him the bomb, built into a Jeep Cherokee, turned out to be an undercover FBI agent. The bomb was inert.

Prosecutors said the bomb should have scared the teenager, but Daoud instead got excited. He pressed the detonator after parking the bomb outside the Cactus Bar & Grill and was immediately arrested, prosecutors say.

After his arrest, Daoud enlisted a fellow inmate in an attempt to have the undercover agent killed. In 2015, he also attacked another inmate who had taunted him with a drawing of the prophet Muhammad. That attack left the victim covered in blood.

Coleman found Daoud not mentally fit to stand trial in 2016 after a two-day competency hearing revealed his predictions that the government would execute him by beheading. He also rambled on repeatedly about reptilian overlords, the Illuminati and Free Masons.

Following treatment, the judge found Daoud competent in 2018. Later that year, she accepted a specialized guilty plea from Daoud in which he admitted the facts revolving around his arrest but still denied culpability. It’s known as an Alford plea.

Finally, Coleman sentenced Daoud last May, noting in part that Daoud “continually did what teenage boys do, and that is to talk big.” Prosecutors tried to persuade the judge to send him away for four decades.

Daoud is now being held in a Kentucky prison facility with a projected release date in May 2026, records show.

In the brief to the appellate court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgia Alexakis argued that “the vast majority of (Daoud’s) ideas for domestic terrorist attacks — driving a truck into a crowd, detonating a car bomb outside a concert, executing a mass shooting at a theater, and bombing Cactus —were serious, plausible and life-threatening.”

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