Judge Sentences Would-Be Chicago Bar Bomber to 16 Years

May 7, 2019 Updated: May 7, 2019

CHICAGO—A federal judge on May 6 handed an Illinois man a 16-year prison sentence for trying to kill hundreds of people by detonating what he thought was a car bomb outside a crowded Chicago bar in 2012, saying she factored in his mental health in imposing a sentence much lower than prosecutors requested.

The sentence announced in Chicago for 25-year-old Adel Daoud includes time for later attempting to have an FBI agent killed and for slashing an inmate with a shiv for taunting him with a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad.

Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman criticized the FBI for appearing to take advantage of Daoud’s extreme immaturity in 2012, when he was 18. And she said prosecutors were wrong to continually challenge clear indications Daoud suffered from mental illness.

Prosecutors wanted a 40-year term. The defense wanted him released as soon as 2021.

Secret recordings of Daoud first played publicly in court last week revealed him as flighty and immature. He giggles almost constantly as he brainstorms attacks to avenge what he saw as the West’s war on Muslims. One of his suggestions was to mount an attack with “flying cars” packed with explosives.

A hidden camera captures a gleeful Daoud driving with an agent posing as a terrorist to the Cactus Bar on Sept. 14, 2012. He cups his hands in over his face, praying that God would ensure the attack made worldwide news and struck fear into nonbelievers. He prays this would be the first of many attacks.

He was arrested after parking a Jeep outside the downtown bar on the Friday night, walking to an alley a block away and pushing a button he believed would set off a 1,000-pound bomb (454-kilogram) inside the vehicle. He pushed the button a second time when it didn’t go off.

Agents supplied the fake device, which was made to smell like diesel fuel and had wiring connected to bags of fertilizer to convince Daoud it was real. He was told it would destroy much of the block and kill hundreds of people out on the town on a Friday night.

Daoud entered an Alford plea in November, saying at the time that he accepted the “factual basis” of the charges against him but denied culpability and maintained his innocence.

By Michael Tarm

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