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Article updated: 4/22/2013 5:41 AM

FBI: Aurora man planned to join Syrian extremists


An Aurora teenager has been arrested on terrorism-related charges and accused of seeking to join an al-Qaida-affiliated group in war-torn Syria, the FBI announced Saturday.

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, 18, was arrested Friday night as he attempted to board a flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Turkey, which borders Syria, the FBI said.

The head of the FBI office in Chicago, Cory B. Nelson, said in a statement announcing the arrest that there are no links between Tounisi's case and the bombings at the Boston Marathon earlier in the week.

Tounisi, a U.S. citizen from Aurora, is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, he faces a maximum 15-year prison term.

Tounisi carried out research online about Jabhat al-Nusrah, or Nursa Front, which is a well-organized rebel faction fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in a bloody civil war, the complaint says. The U.S. government has designated the group a foreign terrorist organization, describing it as an alias for the group al-Qaida in Iraq.

Neither the complaint nor the FBI statement includes the name of an attorney for Tounisi. And there was no public telephone listing for a Tounisi in Aurora, which is just west of Chicago.

According to the FBI, Tounisi made contact over email last month with an FBI employee posing as a Nursa Front recruiter and expressed "his willingness to die for the cause."

The complaint also says Tounisi is a friend of Adel Daoud, another Chicago-area man who was arrested last year on charges he sought to detonate a device he thought was a bomb outside a downtown bar.

Daoud has pleaded not guilty and is in jail awaiting trial.

The complaint does not accuse Tounisi of playing a role in the alleged attack planned by Daoud, though it does say the two friends discussed "techniques and targets" before Daoud's arrest.

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