A judge on Thursday declared a suburban Chicago terrorism suspect mentally unfit to stand trial on charges he placed what he believed to be a bomb outside a bar, concluding that he sincerely believes his rantings that aliens, Freemasons and other shadowy figures are out to get him.
Announcing what is a rare ruling in federal court, Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman also alluded to assertions by Adel Daoud that the judge herself was "a reptilian overlord" and that his own attorneys were in cahoots with the Illuminati, finding that the 22-year-old's mental state had worsened since previous exams found him competent.
She pointed to several possible explanations for his deterioration, including his cellmate's suicide in a downtown Chicago jail, which Daoud also blamed on conspirators.
Agents arrested Daoud in a 2012 FBI sting after he placed what he believed to be an explosive device by a downtown bar. While in jail, he was charged with soliciting the murder of an undercover agent and attacking an inmate who allegedly taunted him with a Prophet Muhammad drawing.
Daoud will be placed in a psychiatric facility for at least three months and could still go to trial as soon as February if his mental state improves, Coleman said. She said mental illness alone doesn't preclude a defendant from going to trial and that the issue is whether he's rational enough to understand proceedings and work with his legal team.
Daoud has appeared jovial and never angry as he has spoken of a wide array of plots, including that Judge Coleman planned to hire Freemasons as jurors to hear his case. He's also claimed the end-goal for federal authorities was to kill him, saying: "They're going to take me downstairs and they're going to cut my head off."
His lawyers have for years argued that federal authorities tend to snare immature and psychologically vulnerable young men like Daoud in stings and not necessarily committed would-be terrorists. Defense attorneys in other U.S. terrorism cases have made similar allegations.
Daoud took the stand at two days of competency hearings last week, against his attorney Thomas Durkin's advice, sometimes giggling and doing impersonations. Durkin said it would be impossible to defend someone who believes his attorneys are in on an Illuminati conspiracy.
"Would someone please tell me how I'm supposed to counsel someone who believes you are part of the Illuminati and that I might be part of the Illuminati?" he said.
At last week's hearing, prosecutors cited expert testimony that much of Daoud's outlandish behavior was a calculated attempt to be provocative and that he wasn't actually delusional or paranoid.