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Hillside man tied to bombing to be arraigned in court

Ahmed Daoud MonDaoud parents Adel Daoud charged with terrorism following his arraignment Dirksen Federal Building 219 S. Dearborn Thursday October

Ahmed Daoud and Mona Daoud, parents of Adel Daoud, charged with terrorism following his arraignment at Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn, Thursday, October 11, 2012. l John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 13, 2012 6:23AM

He’s accused of attempting to blow up a downtown bar and liquor store.

But when alleged terrorist bomb plotter Adel Daoud was told by prsoecutors that he faces a potential life sentence if convicted, the Hillside teen responded with a joke.

“Is that the most I can receive?,” a nervously chuckling Daoud asked Federal Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman during a hearing Thursday.

Daoud, 19, was appearing before Coleman to enter a not guilty plea to charges that he attempted to blow up an unnamed liquor store and bar last month as part of a jihadi plot. The car-bomb Daoud thought he was detonating was a fake, made by the FBI as part of a sting.

Despite the seriousness of the charges, a smiling Daoud appeared untroubled by his predicament in court Thursday. Most of the hearing was spent discussing a private meeting due to take place within the next week between prosecutors and the judge, to discuss what classified evidence against Daoud his attorney needs to know.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas said Daoud’s lawyer, Thomas A. Durkin, is not cleared to view classified evidence in Daoud’s case — an argument the judge agreed with, despite Durkin’s complaints.

Durkin — who said he has been cleared to view classified documents in other domestic terrorism cases — had wanted to attend the meeting, but Coleman said she’d decide what documents he needs to see to defend his client without his help. Under the Classified Information Procedures Act, evidence is turned over to defence attorneys only on a need-to-know basis, Jonas said, adding that he hoped the case could go to trial in the Spring.

Speaking outside court, Durkin said it was “a farce” that he had not already been cleared by the Department of Justice in Daoud’s case. He added it would be a first for a terror case if Daoud’s trial was not delayed by the use of classified information.

Prosecutors depict Daoud as a fanatic and admirer of Osama bin Laden who hoped to kill dozens of Chicagoans by detonating the bomb, which sources say was left outside Cal’s Liquors and the Cactus bar near the corner of Wells and Van Buren.

But Durkin says Daoud was a misguided teen who was entrapped by the government. He said Daoud’s father and his imam at the Islamic Foundation mosque had challenged him about his discussion of jihad before his arrest. Durkin said there were “many definitions” of what jihad means, including an internal spiritual struggle.

Asked about Daoud’s strangely cheerful demeanor in court, Durkin described his client as “naive.” Daoud’s father, Ahmed Daoud, appeared close to tears when he then said, “If you go to his school, everybody says, ‘He’s an angel.’ He’s the best kid — not just because he’s my son.”

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