Derrick Shareef was arrested two weeks ago in Rockford, Illinois, while attempting to trade a pair of speakers for a handgun, some ammo and four hand grenades. He supposedly needed these things because he was allegedly planning to attack a Rockford shopping center. But the grenades and the ammo were duds, the "arms dealer" was an FBI agent, and rather than the box of grenades he thought he was getting, Derrick Shareef has traded his speakers for trouble of a different kind. He may be in prison for a very long time.
In previous reports, I have suggested that the feds will have to drop at least one of the two charges filed against Derrick Shareef, the charge involving "using a weapon of mass destruction". Unfortunately, this description of the charge, which I read in a news account and naively believed, is misleading. Derrick Shareef may be in much more trouble than I thought, and the US invasion of Iraq may have been justified.
More on that later. First, the news.
The best reporting on the hearing comes from the Rockford Register Star and it starts this way: Mall terror suspect will enter plea within six weeks
CHICAGO — Through his attorneys, Derrick Shareef, the 22-year-old Rockford resident charged with plotting to detonate explosives at CherryVale Mall during the Christmas shopping season, waived a pair of hearings that had been scheduled for today in federal court.But the prosecuting attorneys aren't promising anything, except that the arraignment will happen "in the future".
Prosecutors had been expected to outline evidence against Shareef, and the defendant’s attorneys had been expected to seek his release on bond. Instead, Shareef will remain in custody for the time being.
The next step in the process is an arraignment at which Shareef will enter pleas to the charges against him. That’s likely to occur in late January or early February, according to his attorneys.
There's also been a report from the AP Wire, which as you can see, brings the religious angle front and center: Man accused of plot on Rockford mall appears in court
CHICAGO - A Muslim convert accused of plotting to wreak havoc at a Rockford mall by blowing up garbage cans with grenades remained in custody Wednesday after a short hearing in federal court.Ironic, is it not, how the AP manages to spin in two directions at once. Playing up the "Muslim convert" angle feeds into The Phony War, and is therefore to be expected. But the "garbage can" angle is one of the phoniest-sounding details in a very phony-sounding story. So that was unexpected, except in an ironic way.
QuestionsAs for the hearing itself, several questions present themselves, beginning with: What is the defense attorney's angle? Why wouldn't he want to see the evidence against his client? And why wouldn't he want to try to spring his client on bail?
My best guesses: No judge would ever set bond in an amount that Derrick Shareef could afford. So waiving the bond hearing is an easy one. And maybe there are all sorts of reasons why an attorney would waive the preliminary hearing. Perhaps the evidence against Derrick Shareef is so strong, his attorney doesn't even want to see it? Perhaps his attorney is working pro bono and hoping to be elsewhere very soon? Perhaps his attorney is thinking about Lynne Stewart? Perhaps a combination?
Media CoverageNext question: How much media coverage will it get and how good will that coverage be? The easy predictions are "not much" and "not good", but I've been surprised before, so we'll see ...
At the moment the prediction "not good" may be in some danger. The Rockford Register Star has been mostly pretty good on this topic, and I've been especially impressed with Mike Wiser. We'll see what happens.
But the prediction "not much" appears right on target. There's been no coverage outside the immediate area. Aside from an item on the AP wire, the only original reporting has come from the Rockford TV station and the Star.
This fits the pattern (i.e. from a Terror Scare point of view). Derrick Shareef's time in the spotlight is past. Mike Wiser mentioned on TV that he had seen a lot of reporters at the hearing; apparently they were all on vacation and had nothing better to do.
You'll find links to all the media coverage of the hearing (and a bit more) below.
Was It "Overblown"?Mike Wiser appears to have asked Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers whether too much was made of the incident, possibly using the word "overblown".
In "Hearing on mall terror plot today in Chicago", Wiser quotes
Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers, who said that regardless of Shareef’s competence in actually executing a plan and regardless of the reasons behind it, the result would have been the same if he had been successful.Kudos to Mike Wiser for asking the question that prompted this very interesting response.
“It doesn’t make a difference. ... The end result would have been mass casualties,” Meyers said. “I don’t think it was overblown at all.”
I'd be even more interested in knowing what Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers would have said if someone (Mike Wiser, perhaps?) had asked "Doesn't this look a little bit like entrapment?"
This so-called plot was supposedly hatched during a conversation between two people: Derrick Shareef (who we've been told was working alone!) and the FBI informant known in the affidavit as "CS" (Confidential Source). The affidavit has transcripts of key sections of the crucial conversation, and a careful reading of the affidavit reveals that it was CS who suggested bombing CherryVale Mall, who suggested the date (December 22) and the reason (to disrupt Christmas), and it was even CS who suggested using grenades. Then CS set up the meeting between Shareef and the bogus arms-dealer, and CS drove Shareef to the spot where the transaction was to take place.
And yet, there seems to be a feeling that, as Wiser puts it:
it’s possible that even though Shareef didn’t, in the government’s words, pose an imminent threat, he could have if the person he was dealing with wasn’t, in fact, a government agent.I don't understand this as analysis, although I do understand it as propaganda. As analysis it makes no sense to me, because if left to his own devices, Shareef would never have thought of bombing a shopping mall.
He has no idea. He has no money. He has no weapons, no access to weapons. No real motivating forces, no friends ... and then all of a sudden there's this guy in his life, and they talk about jihad!, and it's kind of exciting in a remote sort of way, but then his new "friend" starts daring him -- in not-so-subtle ways -- to prove his manhood, and his faith! -- and Derrick Shareef isn't bright enough or strong enough to resist that kind of pressure, so eventually he starts talking about hurting somebody. Maybe smoke a judge, that'd be fun. But that's not good enough for CS, so he keeps pressing. Why not kill a bunch of people? Why not ruin a religious holiday?
Most observers in Rockland and elsewhere, even those critical of FBI for one reason or another, seem to believe the FBI undercover agents are "picking off" the radical Muslim youth who would otherwise hook up with real terrorists and pose real threats. And that may be true. But it may also be true that the undercover FBI pseudo-jihadis are picking off lonely young guys with nothing much going for them, who are susceptible to a bit of peer-pressure and can be led to say and do virtually anything. In this case if it hadn't been for the FBI, Shareef would probably have moped around the mosque for a while, then gone home and listened to some music on his stereo speakers, rather than trading those speakers for the chance to carry a box of dud grenades from one car to another and spend the rest of his life in prison.
CorrectionsPrevious reports in this space have been misleading with regard to the charges in the case. It was originally reported that Derrick Shareef had been charged with "using a weapon of mass destruction" and I have argued that  a grenade -- or even a box of four -- is not a weapon of mass destruction, so how could a box of dud grenades be a WMD? and  he didn't "use" said weapon, even if it were a WMD. Based on these arguments, I have stated flat-out that the charges will have to be dropped.
Unfortunately, I was wrong about all this and Derrick Shareef is in a lot more trouble than I originally imagined. According to the applicable laws, a "weapon of mass destruction" is defined as anything that gives of poison or pathogens or radioactivity (biological, chemical, and nuclear respectively, as expected) as well as anything that explodes!
Weapon Of Mass Destruction
(2) the term “weapon of mass destruction” means—
(A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title;
(B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
(C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title); or
(D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life; and
Destructive DeviceAccording to this law, the US invasion of Iraq was justified, and UN arms-inspector Hans Blix is an idiot. Clearly Saddam Hussein had at least one hand grenade; that's a weapon of mass destruction, just the same as any bomb, any mine, and all but the smallest rockets and missiles. In fact this law appears to classify as weapons of mass destruction all weapons which can hurt people from a distance, except for firearms (here we see the long reach of the 2nd Amdendment and the even longer reach of the NRA), crossbows and slingshots (and these loopholes will certainly be closed in the next version of the law).
(4) The term “destructive device” means—
(A) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas—
(iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,
(iv) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce,
(v) mine, or
(vi) device similar to any of the devices described in the preceding clauses;
Therefore, the continued occupation and depleted-uranium-poisoning of Iraq is fully justified, the whining lefties who never believe anything the president says can go jump off a cliff, the rape, murder and torture of innocent Iraqis is legitimate and fully called-for, the editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post may still be liable for treason, and the president's "surge option" deserves support from across the entire width of the political spectrum, even though 87.3 percent of all Americans are smart enough to know it cannot possibly work.
Why? Because Saddam Hussien had weapons of mass destruction, that's why!
Further complications: Derrick Shareef is not charged with using a WMD; he is charged with violating this law:
Use of weapons of mass destructionSo it does appear likely that Derrick Shareef is going to have to resort to the first word that came into my head when I heard of his case:
(a) A person who, without lawful authority, uses, threatens, or attempts or conspires to use, a weapon of mass destruction —-
(2) against any person or property within the United States, and
(B) such property is used in interstate or foreign commerce or in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce;
(D) the offense, or the results of the offense, affect interstate or foreign commerce, or, in the case of a threat, attempt, or conspiracy, would have affected interstate or foreign commerce;
EntrapmentIn criminal procedures, a complete defense. The defendant must show that officers induced the defendant to commit a crime not contemplated by him, for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against him.
Legal DocumentsPress Release from DoJ announcing Derrick Shareef's arrest (PDF)
Affidavit filed by FBI agent Jared Ruddy (PDF)
ReportageRockford Register Star:
Terror In The Region: Plot Foiled
Mall terror suspect will enter plea within six weeks
Terror suspect mum at hearing
Man accused of plot on Rockford mall appears in court
Mall bomb plot suspect to stay in federal custody
Shareef to Stay in Custody Until Next Hearing
-- includes a video report, which includes Mike Wiser of the Rockland Star Register
Shoppers Descend On Area Stores Despite Foiled Terror Plot
WREX-TV, the Courier News, The Southern, the Dekalb Daily Chronicle and the Journal Gazette Times-Courier also have (all or some of) the same AP piece that appeared in the Tribune.
Additional ResourcesGoogle Maps:
Rockford is about halfway between Chicago and Dubuque.
Here's a closer view of Rockford and area.
And this is CherryVale Mall.
December 8, 2006:
(En)trapping a Potential Terrorist: The Ghettoest Terror Plot in History
December 8, 2006:
Rockford, Illinois: Terrorist Plot Foiled? Or Just Another Knucklehead Stung?
More on Derrick Shareef, the "Air Grenadist" of Rockford, Illinois
Rockford Breathes a Sigh of Relief, Safe from the Menace of Derrick Shareef
fourth in a series