A Chicago teenager arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on April 19, 2013, has been charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, 18, was arrested for allegedly planning to travel to Syria to join Jabhat al-Nusrah, an alias for Al Qaeda in Iraq.
While looking into details on how to travel to Syria to join Jabhat al-Nusrah on the Internet, he came across a website advertising itself as providing information to those interested in joining “your lion brothers of Jabhat Al-Nusrah who are fighting under the true banner of Islam.”
The site, however, was apparently created by the FBI to attract potential extremists. Through the site, Tounisi allegedly began communicating with an FBI agent posing as a recruiter for the terrorist group.
Tounisi first came to the attention of law enforcement during an investigating into another Chicago man, Adel Daoud, who was arrested in September 2012 for planning to bomb a local bar. The criminal complaint against Daoud identified an individual involved in that plot as “Individual C,” who is apparently Tounisi.
Tounisi and Daoud were ostensibly “close friends” who exchanged terrorist propaganda. According to court documents, that propaganda included recorded lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim cleric killed in Yemen last year, and a video by Omar Hammami, an Alabama native who became the public face and voice of Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia.
While Tounisi had allegedly discussed potential targets with Daoud, he claims to have withdrawn from Daoud’s bomb plot after speaking to religious leaders and fearing law enforcement involvement.
Tounisi faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.