Man convicted in Chicago bomb plot apologizes at sentencing

CHICAGO — A 25-year-old man who sought to detonate a car bomb outside a crowded Chicago bar when he was a teenager apologized during a sentencing hearing Wednesday for agreeing to the terrorism plot, insisting that he no longer harbors a desire to kill or join a terrorist group.

Adel Daoud stood in orange jail clothes and leg chains in Chicago federal court, telling his judge he listened in disbelief this week to secret FBI recordings of him talking about killing non-Muslims in 2012. He said he kept asking himself, "Can that really be me?"

"I can't express how sorry I am," he said.

Wednesday concluded a three-day sentencing that often focused on whether FBI agents manipulated a mentally fragile Daoud into going along with an ominous bombing plan the defense says he never would have thought of on his own.

"I'm sorry for taking the court's time, for making my parents cry, for making a bad name for the Muslim community and I'm sorry to the United States of America," Daoud said.

Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman said she'd take the rest of the week to mull over an appropriate sentence and announce it Monday. Prosecutors want her to impose a 40-year prison term, while the defense said Daoud should be released as soon as a mental health treatment program can be tailored for him.

Daoud, of the Chicago suburb of Hillside, Illinois, was arrested in an FBI sting in September 2012 after pushing a button on a remote that he believed would set off a car bomb powerful enough to destroy much of the block. Undercover agents had supplied the fake bomb to Daoud, who was 18 at the time, telling him it would kill hundreds of people.

Reading from a piece of paper he unfolded at the courtroom podium, Daoud appeared calm and more somber than he has been in hearings over the years, when he was frequently smiling and when his jovial exterior belied the seriousness of his legal plight. In the secret FBI recordings, he was almost always laughing and giggling.

Daoud also told Coleman he now realizes — in contrast to his belief in 2012 — that the Islamic concept of jihad doesn't have to mean "war."

"It can be a verbal confrontation rather than a physical one," he said.

Daoud entered an Alford plea in November, saying at the time that he accepted the "factual basis" of the charges against him but denied culpability and maintained his innocence.

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