Adel Daoud, formerly of Hillside , was 17 years old when he popped on the FBI's radar as a potential terror threat. He was 18 when he was arrested in a subsequent sting operation. Now 25, Daoud has been sentenced.
On Monday Daoud, who claims to be a reformed jihadi, was ordered to serve 16 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman. He will be credited for the seven years he has already served and when released, faces 45 years of court supervision. In addition, there will also be extensive mental health counseling and reporting to authorities after Daoud serves his sentence.
An ex-suburban man with a stocky build, Daoud has been locked up for seven years awaiting resolution in his case. Along the way, he was also charged with a shiv attack on a fellow inmate at Chicago's MCC and with soliciting the murder of the undercover FBI agent who worked on his case. Those two charges, plus the main terror case, were all folded into Monday's sentencing.
"The defendant first undertook upon himself to commit violent jihad, he then decided he would solicit someone to kill a federal agent, and then he assaulted an inmate. So this is an individual who had a pattern," said Jeffrey Sallet, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI-Chicago.
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The government had asked Judge Coleman to sentence Daoud to 40 years behind bars. In an atypical difference of opinion, the recommendation by U.S. probation officials was that the terror subject receive a 15-year sentence. Not surprisingly, Daoud's attorneys had pushed for a more lenient sentence that would amount to little - if any - more time in prison.
"We asked for a sentence of 40 years. The sentence that the defendant received was only 16, so we are disappointed in the sentence. It is notable though that the defendant also received 45 years of supervised release, which will have very stringent conditions, and that is significant," U.S. Attorney John Lausch said.
Over the years Daoud's case became bogged down in questions concerning his mental stability and whether he was capable of standing trial. Once those were resolved - and he began a regimen of medication and other mental health treatment - the case seemed headed for trial.
Then last November Daoud received court approval to enter what is known as an "Alford plea." Under the rare legal tactic, Daoud was allowed to sidestep a federal trial and make no admission of guilt while still admitting the government had the goods on him.
The Alford plea, authorized by Judge Coleman, meant that Daoud would go straight to sentencing. Last week prosecutors put on what amounted to a mini-trial as they tried to achieve their 40-year sentence wish.
The evidence included undercover video of Daoud praying for maximum carnage shortly before detonating what he thought was a half-ton car bomb outside a downtown Chicago bar. The bomb was a fake, part of an FBI sting operation. Regardless, investigators said that Daoud was hoping to commit mass murder and that he helped choose potential targets and enthusiastically participated in the planning.
Defense attorney Thomas Durkin has argued that Daoud was a vulnerable teenager driven by mental illness and delusion and exploited by overzealous federal authorities who should have tried to help him - not corner him in an arrest.
"I think the fact that the court didn't accept the government's case at face value is dramatic and significant. I think that the whole Department of Justice has to re-think its model of what do we do with someone who's unstable who's making religious, fanatical ramblings online?" Durkin said.
Durkin, who wanted very little extra jail time, said Monday he's satisfied with the outcome.
"This gives him a life and we can't ask for anything more than that," Durkin said.