Chicagoan accused of plotting to be suicide bomber for al-Qaida, al-Shabab to plead guilty

CHICAGO — A 29-year-old Chicago man accused of plotting a suicide bombing overseas and claiming he was inspired by a radical Muslim cleric has agreed to change his plea to guilty, bringing to an end one of the last terrorism trials pending in the city’s federal court.

A lawyer for Shaker Masri — whose plea deal was announced Thursday at a status hearing — told reporters that the agreement hammered out with the U.S. Attorney’s Office was favorable to his client, though he declined to elaborate

Masri, who was born in Alabama and lived abroad before returning to the U.S. at age 18, was arrested in 2010 after the FBI exposed his alleged plot to attend a Somalia training camp to become a suicide bomber for terrorist groups al-Qaida and al-Shabab.

Attorneys left open the possibility that the plea deal could still unravel, but Durkin told U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman he was confident enough to have the Sept. 12 trial date cancelled. Coleman set July 20 as the day for Masri to change his plea.

None of the government attorneys spoke to reporters after the hearing.