Nov 20, 12:59 PM EST

US judges refuses to free Illinois man accused of trying to join al-Qaida-affiliated fighters

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CHICAGO (AP) -- A federal judge says a 20-year-old American accused of trying to join al-Qaida-affiliated fighters in Syria will remain jailed pending trial.

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi's (too-NEE'-seez) lawyer asked at a Thursday hearing in Chicago for her client to be released to home confinement.

Molly Armour argued that Tounisi was an immature 18-year-old when he was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in 2013 trying to board a plane to Turkey. She argued that his stint in jail since has been "a maturing process."

But prosecutor William Ridgway countered that jail may have actually hardened Tounisi's anti-American views.

Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan (der-YAY'-gen) said he saw no compelling reason to revisit the detention issue.

Tounisi's mother wept after the ruling.

Tounisi, of Aurora, a Chicago suburb, is charged with material support for terrorism.

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