UPDATE: Release order overruled. Common sense prevails (for now).
He also has been linked to a Muslim who tried to set off a bomb in a Chicago bar. But “family members and leaders from Tounisi’s religious community” convinced the judge that he didn’t need to be in jail; the poor dear would be fine at home. “Teen charged with trying to join al-Qaida gets home confinement,” by Annie Sweeney for the Chicago Tribune, May 2 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
In a highly unusual decision, a federal judge Thursday ordered a terrorism suspect released to home confinement while the Aurora teen awaits trial on charges that he signed up to fight in war-torn Syria for a terror group with ties to al-Qaida.
But the U.S. attorney’s office quickly moved to appeal the decision, putting a hold on the release of Abdella Ahmad Tounisi. Another judge will reconsider Tounisi’s bail Friday morning.
Federal prosecutors called Tounisi, 18, a flight risk and a danger to the community in asking that he remain in custody on charges that he provided material support to a terrorist organization. Tounisi has been in custody since his arrest April 19 at O’Hare International Airport.
Prosecutors allege that Tounisi posted messages on a phony website set up by the FBI agreeing to travel to Syria to fight with the Al-Nusra Front militant group. According to authorities, Tounisi has links to a second Chicago-area terrorism suspect, Adel Daoud, who was arrested in September after he tried to set off what he thought was a bomb outside a downtown bar. The two were close friends and plotted the bomb attack together, prosecutors allege, but Tounisi backed out when he suspected law enforcement was on to them.
In ordering Tounisi’s release, U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Martin repeatedly called the decision a “close, close” call but said that pretrial detention is intended to be an “exceptional step.” Martin also said he was convinced in part by a courtroom packed with family members and leaders from Tounisi’s religious community. The judge also cited Tounisi’s lack of criminal background.
Martin’s voice shifted to a stern tone as he directly addressed Tounisi, warning him not to break any of the rules he had set for his release. Martin acknowledged the rare opportunity he was giving him, noting the seriousness of the charges and the allegations that Tounisi intended to harm people here and abroad.
“This is no game, Mr. Tounisi,” Martin said at one point. “The world is a very volatile place. “¦ Right now you are hanging by a thread in this courtroom.”…
No game, indeed, Judge Martin, except the one in which you are so skillfully being played.