Abdella Ahmad Tounisi's appearance Tuesday follows his arrest at O'Hare International Airport on Friday as he prepared to board a plane. He appeared in court Tuesday under heavy guard, shackled at the wrists and ankles.
The Aurora teenager allegedly wrote to an FBI agent posing as a terrorist recruiter that he was willing to die but had no fighting experience. He's charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorism.
Tounisi will remain in custody until at least May 2, when the teen will make his next court appearance. This will give him more time to meet with his attorney, who was appointed at Tuesday morning's hearing.
Next week, federal prosecutors will make their case to keep Tounisi locked up without bond.
The complaint says Tounisi is a friend of Chicago-area teen Adel Daoud. Daoud is awaiting trial on charges he tried to detonate what he thought was a bomb last year outside a Chicago bar.
Tounisi's father, Ahmad Tounisi, has said his son would not have done what authorities allege.
Tounisi may be charged with providing aid to a foreign terror organization, but the I-Team has learned that it was a very local business authorities say he wanted to blow up, targeting a popular nightclub in Naperville, according to the FBI.
Federal agents say Tounisi wanted to place bombs inside and outside the club so that as many patrons as possible would be injured or killed.
Tounisi was arrested at O'Hare boarding a flight to Istanbul, Turkey. Federal investigators say he was en route to Syria to join a radical terrorist organization.
The I-Team has learned that last summer, FBI agents determined Tounisi had his sights set on a target much closer to home, his home in west suburban Aurora.
Working with a friend, Adel Daoud, who is already charged in a Chicago terrorism case, authorities say Tounisi wanted to stage a bomb attack on a popular nightclub in Naperville.
According to newly filed court records, Daoud told an FBI informant, Tounisi "knows the place... all these filthy people go there and use drugs and alcohol."
The intended target is believed to have been a now-defunct nightclub called Lit in a shopping center near busy Route 59.
Ahmad Tounisi says his son is innocent and that any nightclub bomb plot was engineered by the teenager's friend, Daoud.
"I believe they are trying to tie him to that now, which is totally unfair," said Ahmad Tounisi.
The FBI says Abdella Ahmad Tounisi talked in code about the nightclub plot, saying he would bring a "food station," which meant a vehicle filled with explosives, and a "snack," meaning a bomb inside the club.
According to the FBI, Tounisi said, "We can feed (meaning kill) more people" if we put a bomb inside the club, too."
The target was just two miles from Tounisi's home, but the attack was never carried out, and the suspect's father says such a plot never existed.
"He never hurt anyone in his life, why would he start now?" said Ahmad Tounisi. "All my kids born and raised here, they are more American than some Americans."
Abdella Ahmad Tounisi has been locked up at MCC-Chicago since being arrested by the FBI on Friday night. He is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Tuesday morning.
Attempts to reach anyone associated with Lit nightclub were not successful.