United States v. Daoud, No. 19-2174 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Daoud came to the FBI’s attention because of online activity that evinced a desire to engage in violent jihad. While communicating and meeting with undercover agents, Daoud sometimes wavered about killing people. Daoud planned a Chicago car bomb attack. Undercover agent, “Mudafar” described the bomb that he would supply and the mass carnage it would cause. Mudafar and Daoud met to implement the attack. Daoud, age 18, was arrested upon pressing the button and was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to destroy a building used in interstate commerce with an explosive. While Daoud was in pretrial custody, he solicited the murder of the FBI agent (Mudafar). Daoud’s cellmate was paid to record conversations and instructed Daoud to make a phone call authorizing the killing, which Daoud did. Daoud was charged with soliciting a crime of violence, murder-for-hire, and obstruction of justice. Two years later, Daoud physically attacked another for drawing a picture of the Prophet Muhammad. Daoud was, again, charged. Daoud spent over 400 days in segregated housing during his pretrial incarceration, and Daoud witnessed his cellmate commit suicide.
The cases were consolidated. Daoud was diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. With medication, Daoud’s condition improved; he was found competent to stand trial. Daoud pled guilty while maintaining his innocence. The advisory Guidelines range was life imprisonment; he was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit vacated the sentence as substantively unreasonable. The court downplayed the extreme seriousness of Daoud’s offenses in conflict with the undisputed facts; failed to account for the need to protect the public from Daoud’s high risk of reoffending; improperly distinguished the sentences of similar offenders by relying on Daoud’s pretrial confinement; and premised its sentence on mitigating factors that could not bear the weight assigned to them.