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Defense: Teen accused in bomb plot ‘immature’

In this courtroom sketch 18-year-old Adel Daoud appears before Federal Court Judge Arlander Keys 2012. (AP Photo/Tom Gianni)

In this courtroom sketch, 18-year-old Adel Daoud, appears before Federal Court Judge Arlander Keys in 2012. (AP Photo/Tom Gianni)

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Updated: October 19, 2012 6:15AM

The feds painted him as an religious fanatic who admired Osama Bin Laden and believed he’d kill dozens of Chicagoans when he allegedly pressed a bomb “detonator” outside a downtown bar Friday night.

But Adel Daoud’s attorney said the alleged domestic terrorist Monday was simply a “socially awkward...immature 18-year-old” who may have gone along with a “ridiculous” plot devised by the government agents who built the fake car bomb he’s accused of trying to explode.

Thomas Durkin was speaking after an unkempt Daoud made his first appearance in federal court. Whether or not he is the would-be killer prosecutors said he is — or the confused teenager Durkin described — the boyishly-faced defendant looked lost in Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys’ courtroom Monday afternoon.

Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit and leg shackles and wearing a scruffy beard and large Afro-style haircut, Daoud, of West suburban Hillside, spoke only during the brief hearing to indicate that he could hardly see the judge without his glasses, which were apparently misplaced in custody.

As a squinting Daoud looked on, Durkin alleged that the teen is being held in solitary confinement simply because he is a Muslim accused of terrorism, a move he called unconstitutional. But Daoud will stay locked up at least until his next appearance before Keys on Thursday, when Durkin said he will challenge Daoud’s arrest and detention.

Daoud, who recently graduated from the Islamic Foundation school in Villa Park, is accused of trying to blow up a bar and liquor store using a car bomb placed in the back of a Jeep Cherokee Friday night.

Though federal authorities have not identified the bar, the co-owner of Cal’s at 400 S. Wells, Mike Feirstein, said Sunday that he believes his bar was the target.

Undercover agents had been monitoring Daoud for months after he allegedly posted inflammatory statements on the Internet. They built the fake bomb and, according to the complaint, drove with him to the bar and liquor store Daoud had selected as the “perfect place” to destroy, arresting him after he pressed what he thought was the detonator.

Speaking after Monday’s hearing, Durkin — who has represented several high-profile terrorism defendants previously — acknowledged Daoud may have been “talking nonsense” online.

He stopped short of alleging the government entrapped his client, as defendants have claimed in similar cases but said it was an unanswered question whether “this attempt (to blow up a bar) was made by the government or by my client.”

And he described it as “astounding” that, according to the complaint, federal agents invented a foreign Imam who gave the bombing his blessing after Daoud’s own Imam at the Islamic Foundation and a second Imam told him “that type of rhetoric was improper and not consistent with Islamic belief.”

According to the complaint, Daoud told an undercover agent to “rest assured” that he had been “raising jihad” before the invented Imam gave the bombing his blessing.

Still, Durkin said he found the use of what he called the “Imam card” suspicious.

“I have a lot of questions,” he said, adding that Daoud’s arrest had left Daoud’s father an “emotional wreck.”

Ahmed Daoud had broken down in tears at the end of Monday’s hearing when his son had greeted him with the word “Salaam” — Arabic for “peace.”

“I can’t see’s not fair,” the father said. “Nobody tells me what’s going on!”

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