However, prosecutors are appealing his ordered release.
At the tender age of 18, Abdella Ahmad Tounisi is either a good and faithful member of Naperville's Muslim community -- liked by all, his supporters say – or, as the government paints the teenager, he is a budding terrorist with a thirst for blood who was headed to Syria to learn the latest killing tactics.
Regardless of which Tounisi is real, Thursday afternoon a federal judge in Chicago decided that the accused terrorist should be released on bond, a move that prosecutors managed to stall until Friday when they will appeal.
The FBI says Tounisi saw his destiny in Syria, where an escalating civil war has been under way. Nearly a year ago, authorities say the teenager talked to his father about waging holy war.
Federal wiretaps from January recorded Tounisi's parents discussing their son's plans to go to Syria and the need to convince him that he wouldn't die a martyr, but rather as "roadkill."
Then, last month, the teenager was arrested at O'Hare Airport headed for Syria with $60 in his pocket.
In court Thursday, U.S. prosecutors said the teenager was going to link up with al-Qaeda fighters and should be held without bond in Chicago because he is a flight risk and a danger to society.
The FBI says Tounisi was in cahoots with another accused teenage terrorist, Adel Daoud, who is charged in a plot to blow up a downtown Chicago bar.
Tounisi allegedly helped Daoud scout locations, among them a nightclub near Naperville that authorities say he was going to bomb.
Tounisi's lawyer -- against a backdrop of his relatives and supporters from the Naperville Islamic Center -- argued that the teenager has no criminal record, no financial resources to flee and is a U.S. citizen.
U.S. Magistrate Daniel Martin, on the bench for less than a year after two decades as a public defender, sided with the defendant. He ordered Tounisi free on a $50,000 signature bond. The 18-year-old would face confinement to the family's home in Aurora and electronic monitoring.
Tounisi will remain in Chicago's MCC Thursday night because of federal prosecutors' decision late Thursday to appeal his ordered release. The hearing is scheduled for Friday morning.
The FBI says agents interviewed Tounisi last year after Daoud was arrested and that he admitted helping Daoud's terrorist plot.
Daoud is charged in a separate case and is being detained in federal custody without bond.