Undercover FBI agents have arrested a teenager who tried to detonate what he believed was a car bomb outside a Chicago bar, in an anti-terror sting operation.
Adel Daoud, 18, a US citizen from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, was arrested in an undercover operation in which agents pretending to be terrorists provided him with a fake car bomb. The US Attorney's Office in Chicago, which announced the arrest, said the device was harmless and the public was never at risk.
Daoud is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage and destroy a building with an explosive.
Someone who answered a call to his home who said her name was Hiba and that she was his sister declined to discuss Daoud, the family or the arrest. "We don't even know anything. We don't know that much. We know as little as you do," she said. "They're just accusations. We'd like to be left alone," she said.
The FBI began monitoring Daoud after he posted material online about violent jihad and the killing of Americans, government prosecutors said.
In May, two undercover FBI agents contacted Daoud in response to the postings and exchanged several electronic messages with him in which he expressed an interest in engaging in violent jihad in the United States or abroad, according to an affidavit by an FBI special agent.
Prosecutors say that after being introduced to an undercover FBI agent who claimed to be a terrorist living in New York, Daoud set about identifying 29 potential targets, including military recruiting centres, bars, malls and tourist attractions in Chicago.
Shortly after 7pm on Friday, Daoud met the undercover agent in the suburb of Villa Park and the two drove to central Chicago, where the restaurants and bars were packed with people on a warm evening. According to the affidavit, they entered a car park where a Jeep Cherokee containing the fake bomb was.
Daoud drove the vehicle and parked in front of a bar that was among the pre-selected targets, then walked a street away and attempted to detonate the device by pressing a triggering mechanism in the presence of the agent, according to the affidavit. He was then arrested.
In his communications with one of the FBI agents about possible targets, Daoud allegedly said he wanted to carry out an attack that would kill a large number of people. "I wanted something that's ... massive; I want something that's gonna make it in the news," he wrote, according to the affidavit. "I want to get to like, for me I want to get the most evil place, but I want to get a more populated place."