CHICAGO - An Illinois teenager who was friends with a man charged last year with trying to bomb a Chicago bar was arrested at an airport on his way to try to join a terrorist group in war-torn Syria, the FBI said Saturday.
Abdella Ahmad Tounisi 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. He hoped to join Jabhat al-Nusrah, an al-Qaida-affiliated group fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in a bloody civil war.
There are no links between Tounisi and the Boston Marathon bombings earlier in the week, the head of the FBI office in Chicago, Cory B. Nelson, said in a statement announcing the arrest.
Tounisi, a U.S. citizen, was snared in an Internet sting after contacting a sham website set up by the FBI that purported to hook up would-be fighters with terrorists, the federal complaint says.
The 18-year-old Aurora man was surprisingly frank about his lack of fighting experience.
"Concerning my fighting skills, to be honest, I do not have any," he allegedly wrote in one email written this year, according to the complaint. "I'm very small ... physically but I pray to Allah that he makes me successful."
Tounisi is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Tounisi was carrying out research online about Jabhat al-Nusrah, which is a well-organized rebel faction fighting Assad's regime, the complaint says. In late 2012, the U.S. government designated the group a foreign terrorist organization, describing it as an alias for al-Qaida in Iraq.