- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - An attorney for a suburban Chicago man accused of trying to join al-Qaida-affiliated fighters in Syria says the defense has begun negotiations with prosecutors on a possible plea deal.

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi’s (too-NEE’-seez) attorney, Molly Armour, disclosed the development at a Thursday status hearing in U.S. District Court in Chicago. She told the judge the sides are in “preliminary plea negotiations.”

The 20-year-old was arrested at O’Hare International Airport in 2013 trying to board a plane for Turkey. Prosecutors say the then-teenager from Aurora hoped to join Nusra Front.

Tounisi pleaded not guilty to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group. His maximum prison term would be several decades. Prosecutors typically recommend lower sentences if defendants agree to plead guilty.

Tounisi’s next hearing is set for March 25.

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