“Aurora man pleads guilty to terrorism charge,” by Stefano Esposito, Chicago Sun-Times, August 11, 2015:
A young man from Aurora pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Abdella Ahmed Tounisi’s guilty plea comes just two months before his friend, Adel Daoud, is set to go on trial for a September 2012 plot to blow up a bar in downtown Chicago. Tounisi allegedly helped Daoud plan that attack, but he backed out when he became suspicious about an accomplice who turned out to be an undercover federal agent.
Federal officials said Tounisi’s “interest in violent jihad continued, notwithstanding Daoud’s arrest.” Authorities nabbed him at O’Hare Airport in April 2013, where he allegedly planned to travel to war-torn Syria and hoped to join a “jihadist militant group.” The U.S. citizen had gone through airport security, headed for a flight to Instanbul, Turkey, they said.
Tounisi hoped to join Jabhat al-Nusrah, a group affiliated with al-Qaida, according to the FBI. He was charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
The feds caught Tounisi in an Internet sting after he contacted a sham website set up by the FBI that purported to hook up would-be fighters with terrorists, according to the federal criminal complaint against him.
Between January and April 2013, Tounisi searched online for information about travel from Chicago to Syria, obtained a new passport and, beginning in late March 2013, made contact through the website with someone he thought was a recruiter for Jabhat al-Nusrah but who was actually an FBI agent.
The top of the website said “A Call for Jihad In Syria,” and it asked would-be fighters to “come and join your lion brothers of Jabhat Al-Nusra who are fighting under the true banner of Islam, come and join your brothers, the heroes of Jabhat Al-Nusra,” according to the complaint.
In email exchanges with the undercover FBI agent, Tounisi described his plan to get to Syria through neighboring Turkey and spoke of “his willingness to die for the cause,” according to authorities.
He was frank with the purported recruiter, according to the FBI. In one email Tounisi wrote, “Concerning my fighting skills, to be honest I do not have any. I’m very small . . . physically but I pray to Allah that he makes me successful,” according to the complaint….