Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More on Derrick Shareef, the "Air Grenadist" of Rockford, Illinois

Derrick Shareef, about whom I wrote last Friday, wanted to be a "terrorist" so badly he couldn't see any of the signs that he was being set up, and he may spend the rest of his life in prison for his lack of ... what? ... awareness? discretion? common sense? ... or all of the above!

Big Dan, who makes frequent and very funny comments here, has taken to calling Derrick Shareef the "Air Grenadist", following Bluebear2's suggestion. It's a variation on the term "Air Guitarist", which of course refers to a person pretending to play a guitar that isn't there. Shareef is charged with a crime which, had it taken place, would have involved weapons which -- according to some of the early news reports -- he never managed to obtain. However, according to an affadavit filed in the case, Shareef did obtain "weapons" (just before he was arrested), but they wouldn't have worked for him! So either he was playing an air guitar or else his guitar had no strings on it!

How do I know this? It's a long story, but I'll tell it as quickly as I can.

Somebody using the handle "Critical_Thinker" left a comment on Friday's thread, linking to a blog which bills itself as dealing in "Stories on 9/11, Worldwide Narcotics Trade, Russian/Israeli Mafia, Conflict Diamonds, Cover-ups/Deception, Al-Qaeda, and much more..." but which has only one post on it. Even I couldn't fail to notice that this was odd. Most beginning bloggers write a few items before they start posting links to their blogs elsewhere. And they usually write a few stories before they start advertising that they have stories.

So my BS detector was beeping even before I started reading the article, and yet the article seemed very good. But the layout -- white text on a black background -- was tough on the eyes, and between that impediment and the beeping of my detector, I didn't make it through the whole post, even though I found it very interesting.

But I kept my eyes open, and eventually I found the same piece elsewhere -- in black on white this time! -- and that led me to what appears to be the original, courtesy of The Polemicist.

In (En)trapping a Potential Terrorist: The Ghettoest Terror Plot in History, The Polemicist walks through an affadavit written by FBI agent Jared Ruddy, and traces the development of this so-called terror plot. And guess what? Great big surprise: It's fishy from one end to the other!

Ruddy's affadavit describes a confidential source (CS) who somehow has got hooked up with Shareef and who appears to have been "driving", not only "the mission" but also the car. That's right: Shareef and CS travel around in CS's car, CS is the one who suggests using grenades, CS is the one who suggests attacking a shopping mall, and on and on and on.

Even better: the "weapons" for which Shareef traded his stereo speakers are described in the affadavit as "non-functioning"! He couldn't have hurt anyone with them, even if he hadn't been arrested as soon as he got them!

I wish I had been able to find the affadavit (or The Polemicist) prior to posting my previous article about Derrick Shareef, but it wouldn't have changed my mind about anything: the fact that this "terror plot" was bogus was very clear to me, just from the Washington Post article I quoted Friday. The only difference it would have made was in the level of detail.

Speaking of details, three cheers for The Polemicist for finding the source document and working through it so carefully. I will share some of his observations [and a few of my own comments, too], but I really can't do his analysis justice in this way, so if you want a good, detailed picture of this so-called terror plot, please read his entire piece.

Perhaps these excerpts will entice you:
Who is CS? How and why did he meet Shareef? Is CS an FBI informant? [Yes.] Is this the only case on which he has helped the FBI? [No.]
What are his links to the Muslim community in Rockford, IL? Is he even a Muslim? What is his ethnic background? African American, Arab, White, or South Asian?

How and why did he come into contact with Shareef? Did their acquaintanceship begin without links to the FBI, or was CS's befriending of Shareef precipitated solely by interest in Shareef as a potential terrorist? Was CS 'fishing' for 'terrorists' and saw Shareef responsive to his bait? Or did federal authorities alert CS to Shareef, and make specific requests for him to engage with the latter? If Shareef was on the FBI's radar prior to CS's meeting with him, then why and how? [All good questions, no? These are the sorts of things Shareef's attorney should ask at the trial. Patrick Fitzgerald might not find this case such a slam-dunk after all.]
[At one point in the narrative, Shareef wants to] blow up government buildings [at] a time in which they'll be mostly/completely empty. [But then...]
Without precipitation, CS asks Shareef if he thinks it's a better idea to "hit the mall." What the hell? Why is government informant giving the "terrorist" ideas?
CS [...] says, "I mean, alright, we gotta look at it this way, we want to disrupt Christmas." We? [...] Wait, who's the terrorist? CS or Shareef?
[By the time they get around to discussing weapons] Shareef has been given a strategic goal, site, targeted victims, and specific objectives. Now all he needs is a means of attacking. And he thinks of it all by himself. Not. CS "asks" Shareef if he thinks they need grenades for the attack. Wow. They say we're in the era of big government. I didn't know it was that intrusive. Even terrorists can't decide the details of their plots!

Shareef the Compliant agrees on the need for grenades. He still needs more direction though. So CS continues to lead him, saying, "You go in there and toss a grenade, and no one's gonna know who did it." [...] In his typical yes man fashion, Shareef agrees/complies, replying, "No one's gonna be expecting no shit like that." Clearly Shareef didn't. It wasn't even his idea!
It looks like none of this was his idea. It wasn't a terror plot that failed; it was an entrapment plot that succeeded.
The government basically drove this plot. They got a big talking, broke, and dumb young guy to sell his speakers for [non-functioning] grenades. He had no money, knowledge, or pre-existing plot. He was guided all along the way by a government informant.

Look at what bureaucratic speak can do. Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the Chicago FBI office says, "We believe we've neutralized this threat." Listen Bobby, the threat never existed. You basically made it. It'll take a few days before the press gets on to the stupidity of this story. [If ever] And it'll start a little discussion on how the government is entrapping supposed terrorists. [Probably not] I'm not sure if things will change after this. [Uh... No, sorry!]
The Polemicist asks a lot of good questions, doesn't he? Here's one from me: Why would the FBI go to such lengths to corral such an incompetent "terrorist"?

That's a rhetorical question, by the way. There are plenty of reasons. Among them: it makes for "good" publicity. And the news can be spun in all sorts of ways.

Here are a few of my favorite examples (favorite in an ironic way, of course):

From Northern Star Online (a campus publication from Northern Illinois University, apparently written by people who are trying to learn to be journalists): Terror plot foiled
DeKALB | The suspect arrested in a foiled terror plot in Rockford late last week allegedly listed targets in DeKalb County, specifically the DeKalb County Courthouse, 110 E. Sycamore St. in Sycamore, and synagogues in the area.

Derrick Shareef, 22, was arrested in Rockford Wednesday and charged with planning to detonate four hand grenades at CherryVale Mall. The explosions would have turned garbage cans into flying shrapnel.
Actually, the explosions would have produced a good deal more shrapnel if they happened in the open, rather than in garbage cans. They don't call them "fragmentation grenades" for nothing. But Derrick Shareef didn't seem to understand this point, so why should an aspiring young student-journalist know any better?

In fact, the author, Colin Leicht, mentions Jared Ruddy's affadavit, but doesn't link to it (otherwise his readers might actually read it and get their own ideas), and (just like the so-called "real" journalists Colin is apparently being taught to emulate) he makes no attempt to explore the questions that fairly jumped out of the affadavit at The Polemicist (and out of the Washington Post at your nearly frozen typist as well).

Instead he quotes some law enforcement officers and then goes looking for "local reactions", where he accidentally finds some truth, from a sophmore accounting student:
For some students, it seems unlikely that another terror incident will follow this one soon, due to DeKalb's remoteness in comparison to metropolitan areas like New York or Chicago.

"Why choose DeKalb or Rockford?" wondered Justin McConkey, a sophomore accountancy major. "It just doesn't make sense."
Bingo! Justin has it exactly right. It just doesn't make any sense at all.

But that doesn't mean it can't be spun in all sorts of nefarious ways.

I don't think I'll ever see anything more hopelessly spun than the piece from John Lillpop at The Conservative Voice: Terrorist Should Have Waited a Month
Derrick Shareef, a Muslim, has got to be one of the most unfortunate terrorists running around.

Twenty-two year old Shareef, from Rockford, IL, was taken into custody after a plot to blow up a Chicago shopping mall was thwarted by the FBI’s Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Special-Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant said: “Once the threat Shareef posed was detected by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, his activities and movements were under constant surveillance and there was no imminent risk to the public.”

Shareef appears to lack the high-technology sophistication and abundant funding that many Islamofascists are noted for. He also seems to lack room-temperature intelligence because he was arrested when he met with an undercover agent to trade a set of stereo speakers for four hand grenades and a handgun.

As if that is not bad enough, Shareef seems to have a lousy sense of timing to boot. Had he laid low until January, terrorist wimps like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid would be in charge, and Shareef would be a protected minority.

As such, Shareef would be immune from arrest because the FBI no doubt used racial profiling to nail this creep, and that will be a no-no when Pelosi et al. begin implementing their “kinder, gentler” version of homeland security.
Never mind whether there is any evidence indicating that the FBI "cracked" this case due to "racial profiling". Never mind that both "Islamofascist" and "terrorist wimps" are contradictions in terms. Never mind that "the high-technology sophistication and abundant funding" which we have seen in some so-called "terrorist attacks" always seem to have had their roots in the CIA, MI6, Mossad, ISI and/or all of these. And never mind that neither Reid nor Pelosi will be in a position to dictate homeland security policy anytime soon.

None of this matters, because Lillpot does all the "important" things right: He scares his readers and dumps on the Democrats at the same time, while managing to mention Shareef's religion in the lead paragraph. If you're The Conservative Voice, you couldn't ask for a better-spun piece of trash.

Pardon me for saying so, but the whole piece strikes me as impossibly funny. Of course it would be a lot funnier if there weren't so many idiots around, looking for stories like this and anxious to believe them.

But then I guess that's why there's a place for The Polemicist, and for yours truly as well. After all, somebody has to ferret out the details and tell the truth about stuff like this. And if so-called professional journalists aren't going to do it, why should we expect better work from students?

P.S. The Conservative Voice is now -- for a limited time only, of course -- giving away free copies of Bill O'Reilly's "best seller", "Culture Warrior". LOL. I could write a best-seller too, if somebody would buy a zillion copies and give them away!

At this price, it's certainly worth every penny.


second in a series