Chicago terror suspect asked about attacking non-Muslims before sting, FBI agent testifies

This undated file photo provided by the US Marshals office shows Chicago terrorism suspect Adel Daoud. (US Marshals office via AP, File)
Updated 30 April 2019

Chicago terror suspect asked about attacking non-Muslims before sting, FBI agent testifies

  • Daoud was arrested in 2012 after he pushed a button on a remote he believed would detonate a bomb outside a crowded bar
  • Defense attorneys say Daoud's case is an example of how the FBI often snares the psychologically vulnerable in such stings

CHICAGO: A multiday sentencing hearing began Monday in Chicago and focused on whether FBI agents manipulated a mentally fragile teenager to participate in a terrorist plot or whether he had long before shown an eagerness to kill.
Prosecutors called an FBI agent to the witness stand to tell Adel Daoud’s sentencing judge that Daoud posted social media comments inquiring about attacking non-Muslims more than a year before undercover agents ever engaged him as part of a sting.
Authorities arrested Daoud in late 2012 after he pushed a button on a remote he believed would detonate a 1,000-pound (454-kilogram) bomb outside a crowded Chicago bar. Prosecutors want a 40-year prison term for Daoud, who entered an Alford plea in November.
Defense attorneys say the now-25-year-old, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Hillside, is a textbook example of how the agency often snares the psychologically vulnerable in such stings. They want US District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman to release him as soon as a mental health treatment plan can be developed for him.
The agent who took the stand first, Jeff Parsons, read postings Monday in which Daoud expressed admiration for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, described himself as an aspiring terrorist and even typed keywords like, “I am a terrorist” and “download terrorist magazine,” on search engines.
Defense attorney Thomas Durkin suggested during cross-examination later Monday that Daoud’s overt and clumsy online chat about being a terrorist should have been a strong sign he was no such thing.
“How many terrorists do you know who have literally proclaimed online that, ‘I am a terrorist?’” Durkin asked Parsons. The agent answered he hadn’t heard of others.
The agent said he saw nothing in Daoud’s postings indicating he suffered from mental illness. He said Daoud showed initiative, suggesting to undercover agents that fitting butcher knives to a truck and driving it into a crowd would be a way to kill many people at once.
Durkin mentioned another idea of Daoud’s — to stage attacks by deploying “flying cars.” He said that idea should have been one of many red flags.
“Did it ever occur to you ... that the person you were dealing with was unstable?” Durkin asked the agent.
“I didn’t see anything indicating he was mentally unstable,” Parsons answered.
The agent also read comments Daoud posted admitting he may not have the qualities for a militant, saying, “I got asthma and flat feet. ... And I have never even held a gun before.” He added: “I have a terrible case of procrastination and laziness.”
In 2016, Coleman temporarily deemed Daoud mentally unfit after ruling that he seemed sincere about assertions that Illuminati and “reptilian overlords” were out to get him.
On Tuesday, prosecutors intend to call an undercover agent who played a central role in the sting against Daoud. Prosecutors say the agent’s life would be in danger if his identity is revealed public, so he will either testify in a disguise or from behind a screen.


Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.

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