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Aurora Teen Arrested For Attempting to Join Jihad
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Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, an 18 year-old from Aurora, Illinois, was intercepted at O’Hare Airport on his way to Syria in an attempt to join a terrorist group and commit acts of terror on American soil. Tounisi was under surveillance by the FBI and had allegedly been in contact with an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a recruiter for a Syria-based terrorist group.

Tounisi is alleged to have purchased a plane ticket to Turkey, from where he would then fly to Syria and join Jabhat al-Nusrah, a militant jihadist group. The FBI considers Jabhat al-Nusrah to be an alias for al-Qaida in Iraq. Tounisi was arrested on Saturday at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and his currently being held without bail on one count of attempting to provide material to a foreign terrorist organization.


The Chicago Tribune reports that Tounisi has been linked to Adel Daoud, the person awaiting trial on federal criminal charges for attempting to set off a bomb outside of a Chicago bar in 2012. Since that incident, the FBI has been observing Tounisi, and made contact with him through an undercover agent in 2013.

According to the criminal complaint, Tounisi offered advice as to attack techniques when Daoud was planning to bomb the bar by parking a truck filled with explosives in a nearby alley. Tounisi and Daoud frequently discussed violent jihad, but Tounisi backed out of the plan several months prior to the failed attack out of a fear that Daoud was working with undercover police officers.

After being contacted by an undercover FBI agent posing as a recruiter for Jabhat al-Nusrah, Tounisi allegedly wrote that he had a “willingness to die for the cause,” and that he hoped to join the Syrian group. “Concerning my fighting skills, to be honest I do not have any. “I’m very small (5 feet 6 inches, 120 pounds) physically but I pray to Allah that he makes me successful.”

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“Since 9-11, terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and al-Shabhab have found it increasingly difficult to plant and mount a 9-11 type terrorist attack,” security consultant Ross Rice told CBS News. “So what they’re resorting to is enlisting US citizens or people who are in this country legally, radicalizing them, and then getting them to do terrorist acts on their behalf.”

The Chicago Tribune contacted Tounisi’s father, Ahmad Tounisi, who maintained his son’s innocence. The elder Tounisi said that his son was a “good boy” who was studying to become a radiologist. Tounisi said that his son often spoke about going to Syria to fight injustice, but that he would never join a terrorist group. “I know my kid is innocent. I know a lot of Muslim kids are getting set up.”

Image Credit: Handout provided by family of teen



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