The Latest: Illinois man gets 15 years in terrorism case

The Latest on the sentencing of a suburban Chicago man convicted of seeking to join an al-Qaida-linked group in Syria (all times local):

1:55 p.m.

A federal judge has given the maximum available 15-year prison sentence to a suburban Chicago man convicted of seeking to join an al-Qaida-linked group in Syria, telling him he made the choice "to become a villain" by joining terrorists.

Lawyers for Abdella Ahmad Tounisi (too-NEE'-see) argued Thursday at his sentencing in Chicago that the 23-year-old was motivated foremost, not by extremist ideology, but to help Syrians by fighting Bashar Assad's repressive regime. They asked for a seven-year sentence.

But Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan (YAY'-gee-yahn) rejected that. He said the group that the Aurora, Illinois, man sought to join, Jabhat al-Nusra, was affiliated with those "who called for the destruction of the U.S." Addressing Tounisi directly, he told him "there are no free passes when it comes to collusion with terrorists."

The judge added he would have imposed a sentence beyond the statutory 15-year maximum if he could have.

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9:45 a.m.

A suburban Chicago man snared in a 2013 internet sting is being sentenced for seeking to join an al-Qaida-linked group fighting Bashar Assad's regime in Syria.

There's a wide gap between the prison terms prosecutors and defense lawyers want for Abdella Ahmad Tounisi (too-NEE'-see) at Thursday's Chicago hearing. Prosecutors want the maximum 15 years for attempting to provide material support to terrorists. The defense wants seven, which, with time served, could mean he's out in just a few years.

Tounisi was 18 when agents arrested him after he left his Aurora, Illinois, home and went to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 2013.

He'd visited a sham extremist website created by the FBI weeks earlier. It invited visitors to fight under "the true banner of Islam."

Tounisi pleaded guilty in 2015.

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12 a.m.

A suburban Chicago man snared in a 2013 internet sting is being sentenced for seeking to join an al-Qaida-linked group fighting Bashar Assad's regime in Syria.

Federal prosecutors and defense lawyers are requesting different prison terms for Abdella Ahmad Tounisi (too-NEE'-see) at Thursday's hearing in Chicago. Prosecutors want the maximum 15 years for attempting to provide material support to terrorists. The defense wants seven.

The American-born Tounisi was 18 when agents arrested him after he left his Aurora, Illinois, home and went to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in April 2013. He was bound for Turkey, then Syria to join Jabhat al-Nusrah.

He had visited a sham extremist website created by the FBI weeks earlier. It invited visitors to join their "lion brothers" under "the true banner of Islam."

Tounisi pleaded guilty in 2015.