Adel Daoud, Chicago car-bomb plot suspect, pleads not guilty

In this file courtroom sketch, Adel Daoud, 19, of suburban Chicago, appears before a judge at federal court in Chicago. (AP Photo/Tom Gianni, File)
October 11, 2012 4:17:07 PM PDT
A west suburban teenager pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to federal terrorism charges.

Nineteen-year-old Adel Daoud is accused of plotting a car bomb attack in downtown Chicago.

In this Intelligence Report: How federal prosecutors are using powerful law enforcement tools against the teenage terror suspect.

The FBI and federal prosecutors are using two of the government's heaviest legal weapons in their case against Daoud, a pair of federal statutes that are designed to prevent foreign terror organizations from infiltrating America, and intended to stop the release of information that could be damaging to U.S. law enforcement.

"Look, he's a young kid," said Daoud attorney Thomas Durkin. "He just graduated from high school."

Durkin's client may be young, but the tactics being used on him by federal authorities are usually aimed at foreign organizations such as al-Qaeda.

While Daoud is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction last month -- what he thought was a car bomb to blow up a downtown bar in the 400-block of South Wells, near the federal lock-up -- it was a plot largely engineered by the FBI during which the teenager is accused of taking the bait.

At the suspect's home, and elsewhere, federal agents covertly recorded phone conversations and Internet communications.

Prosecutors say that evidence must be held in secret, from both the public and the defendant, under the Classified Information Procedures Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, both popular since 9/11 to intercept terror plots from overseas.

"So, what would normally in a routine case be not classified evidence becomes classified evidence in a terrorism-related case because the surveillance is usually done by an intelligence agency...be it the FBI, the CIA or the NSA or something like that," Durkin said.

The government wants to keep evidence even from Durkin, who contends he should be able to see it on behalf of his client and says he has the required security clearance from numerous previous cases.

"I think it's preposterous," said Durkin. "Now, I will be cleared at some point if they're going to use classified evidence and they're the ones who filed the notice saying that they have classified evidence. I don't know what they're doing, this is news to me and that's why I was yelling about it."

The Classified Information Act allows judges to review sensitive material in private so that prosecutions can proceed without national secrets being exposed. Otherwise, defendants could corner the government by threatening to reveal damaging data if the case wasn't dropped. That's why this classified information act is sometimes called the Graymail Law.


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