Adel Daoud tried to set off a bomb outside a crowded Chicago bar in 2012, and now, according to the Chicago Tribune, he has “asked a federal judge to allow him to enter an unusual guilty plea.” He wants to enter “what’s known as an Alford plea in which he’d acknowledge prosecutors had evidence to convict him but not admit wrongdoing.” How could there be evidence enough to convict him if he didn’t do anything wrong? Law enforcement officials, you see, made him turn to jihad.
In evaluating this plea, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman is doubtless aware that Daoud is no choirboy: “In addition to the terrorism conspiracy and solicitation of murder charges, Daoud’s lawyers also want him to plead guilty at the same time to a third charge alleging Daoud attacked an inmate with a shank while awaiting trial at the Metropolitan Correction Center, a federal Loop jail.”
Nonetheless, Coleman “has often struck a sympathetic tone with Daoud, who was a teenager when he was first charged in 2012, and sided with his attorneys in finding him mentally unfit for trial two years ago.”
Thomas Anthony Durkin, Daoud’s lawyer, is running as far as he can with an entrapment defense: “Given the very nature of the terrorism charges and the extensive evidence that will be marshaled against him, (he) understands the likelihood of a guilty verdict — notwithstanding his defenses and protestations of innocence.”
This poor innocent boy “came under FBI scrutiny in 2011 after posting messages online about killing Americans,” whereupon “FBI analysts posing as terrorists exchanged messages with Daoud and eventually got him to meet with the undercover agent, who was described as a ‘cousin’ interested in waging jihad.”
In one of those meetings, Daoud looked forward enthusiastically to committing mass murder for Allah, saying it would make him feel as if he “accomplished something.” Daoud told the undercover agent:
If it’s only like five, 10 people, I’m not gonna feel that good. I wanted something that’s … massive. I want something that’s gonna make it in the news like tonight.
Nor did he just talk: Daoud was arrested after he pushed a trigger to detonate what he thought was a car bomb, but was actually a fake given to him by the FBI agent.
What would it take for you to punch the trigger of what you thought was a car bomb? Would you do it for love? For money? For religious fervor? Out of a sense of justice? Out of a sense of religious duty? Would you do it because an agent provocateur encouraged you? What would it take for you to commit mass murder in the name of Allah?
Absurd as they may seem, these are being treated as serious questions. For as jihad mass-murder plots continue to be uncovered in the United States, those accused of perpetrating them, and several Islamic groups, increasingly claim that overzealous FBI agents made them do it. They argue that law enforcement pushed poor innocent Muslims into taking part in a jihad plot that otherwise would never have existed.
The problem with this line of thinking? No amount of encouragement could get the average American non-Muslim to commit mass murder.
Adel Daoud, and the many other jihadis who have claimed entrapment, must have already been predisposed to this sort of thing. Clearly Adel Daoud wanted to do what he tried to do.
These entrapment claims are a refuge of scoundrels. Judge Coleman should dismiss Daoud’s protestations of guilt-but-innocence. She should also press investigators to determine where he learned his understanding of Islam, and whether he was taught in any Chicago-area mosque that Allah would reward the murder of unbelievers.
The assumption that every jihad plotter is a “lone wolf” with no connection to the larger Muslim community is based on wishful thinking, not fact, and is as fanciful as claims of entrapment. Jihad plotters such as Adel Daoud do not spring up out of nowhere. His and every other jihad investigation should involve, as a matter of course, an investigation of all local and relevant Islamic institutions.
To undertake such an investigation, however, would require the discarding of several of the cherished assumptions of the law enforcement and intelligence establishment. And that is about as likely as Judge Coleman seeing Adel Daoud for what he really is.