A U.S. citizen accused of attempting to join an Al-Qaida ally in Syria was ordered confined to his parents’ home with electronic monitoring while he awaits trial.
Abdella Ahmad Tounisi of Aurora, Illinois, about 42 miles west of Chicago, was arrested at O’Hare International Airport on April 19 as he was about to board a plane bound for Istanbul with plans to travel on to neighboring Syria, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation statement.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel G. Martin in Chicago today denied the U.S. government’s request to detain Tounisi.
Tounisi, 18, is charged with a single count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He faces as long as 15 years in prison if he is found guilty.
Tounisi was close friends with an Illinois man charged last year with an attempted bombing in Chicago, the FBI said in its April 20 statement.
Adel Daoud, 19, was arrested in September in an FBI sting operation during which he allegedly tried to detonate a phony bomb given to him by an undercover U.S. agent as an act of jihad, or holy war.
Daoud pleaded not guilty in October to charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage or destroy a building with an explosive. His attorney, Thomas A. Durkin, told reporters Daoud was the victim of a set- up. Daoud remains in U.S. custody.
While Tounisi didn’t participate in Daoud’s bombing attempt, he helped in the early planning, according to the affidavit of FBI Special Agent Dwayne W. Golomb filed with the criminal charging papers.
“Tounisi apparently decided against participating in the attack, in part because he believed the UC was associated with law enforcement,” Golomb wrote, using UC as an abbreviation for the FBI’s undercover agent.
“Tounisi’s interest in violent jihad continued, notwithstanding Daoud’s arrest on terrorism charges,” Golomb said.
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