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Prosecutors want 40 years for bomb plot suspect, defense seeks 2021 release

Adel Daoud | U.S. Marshal's office photo via AP

Federal prosecutors view Adel Daoud as a once-aspiring terrorist who, when given the opportunity to act on his beliefs, tried to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb outside a downtown Chicago bar.

Daoud’s defense attorney says the U.S. government coaxed a naive, impressionable teenager into trying to commit an act he otherwise would not have attempted.

Those differences, laid out in dueling memos filed Friday in U.S. District Court, set up a contentious, possibly weeklong sentencing hearing set to start Monday.

Prosecutors in their sentencing memo asked for a 40-year sentence for Daoud. The document filed by Daoud’s attorney argues he should be released as soon as 2021.

In November, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman 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.

Prosecutors wrote in their 60-page memo Friday that a 40-year sentence would align with those in similar cases. The government argued Daoud was not entrapped or induced to commit a terrorist act on Sep. 14, 2012, and that he “decided for himself that killing innocent civilians was justified” despite an undercover FBI agent’s attempts to talk him out of the attack.

Prosecutors said Daoud told the undercover agent, “Now I’m doing what I’ve been preaching.” Daoud allegedly twice pressed a button to detonate the bomb, not knowing it was fake.

Daoud has been jailed since his arrest in 2012. In jail, he tried to convince his cellmate to have the undercover agent killed, according to prosecutors. Several years later, while still in jail, Daoud allegedly tried to kill a fellow inmate because the inmate had drawn a picture of the Prophet Muhammad.

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Prosecutors argued in their sentencing memo that Daoud’s “horrific” offenses stemmed from his supposed motivation to commit the acts before his first contact with undercover agents. There was no evidence, the government said, that Daoud had a mental health issue that made him “vulnerable and susceptible to influence.”

Daoud’s defense attorneys have argued that his mental health problems caused him to fall into an FBI trap. Daoud, who has in the past rambled about the Illuminati and reptilian overlords, was ruled in 2016 to be unfit to stand trial and was admitted to a mental health facility. After treatment and prescribed medication, he was deemed mentally competent for trial.

The 134-page defense memo also argued Daoud did not have the capability to carry out an attack without the undercover agent’s help, and that he did not want to detonate a bomb until the agent convinced him.

Daoud’s attorneys asked for him to be released by the fall of 2021 so he could attend school.