Friday, December 8, 2006

Rockford, Illinois: Terrorist Plot Foiled? Or Just Another Knucklehead Stung?

Surely the Washington Post had fun trying to keep the word "entrapment" out of this story:
An Illinois man has been charged with two terrorism-related charges after allegedly planning to set off hand grenades in garbage cans at a mall in Rockford, about 90 miles west of Chicago, federal officials announced today.

Derrick Shareef, 22, of Rockford was arrested Wednesday after meeting with an undercover federal agent at a store parking lot to trade a set of stereo speakers for four hand grenades and a handgun, according to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's offices in Chicago.

In a complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Shareef was charged with attempting to damage or destroy a building by fire or explosion and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Apparently a hand grenade is now a weapon of mass destruction. What do you know?

A grenade is certainly capable of destruction, so I suppose it all hinges on what you mean by "mass".
He is scheduled to make his initial court appearance this afternoon, officials said.

Authorities said there was never any risk to the public because Shareef was under heavy surveillance prior to his arrest.
"Heavy surveillance" seems like a bit of an understatement. In fact, this looks a lot more like a sting operation, especially considering a report from the Rockford Register Star which says:
The man had “ideas and desires, but no means,” law enforcement sources said.
The Washington Post continues:
"While these are very serious charges, at no time was the public in any imminent peril as a result of the defendant's activities," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a press release.
Patrick Fitzgerald must be drooling over this one. He couldn't manage any significant progress in the case of the Valerie Plame outing, but he shouldn't have any trouble convicting this bozo!
The FBI and Justice Department said Shareef has no apparent ties to any terrorist group and is believed to have been acting alone in his alleged plans.

According to the criminal complaint, Shareef allegedly planned to blow up the grenades at the CherryVale Shopping Mall in Rockford, and also talked about attacking local government offices as potential targets.
That's an interesting plan, don't you think? Four hand grenades in four garbage cans! How would it work?

Pull the pin, throw it in, slam on the cover, run like mad. Repeat three more times and then get the hell out of there before any of the grenades go off.

Sounds like a winner to me!
Shareef told a cooperating federal informant that he "wanted to commit acts of violent jihad against civilians as well as other crimes to obtain funds to further his goals," the government said.
What was he planning to do? Call al-Q'aeda headquarters (1-800-ALQ-AEDA) and say: "Hey! You don't know me, but I'm a very cool jihadi. In fact, I've just set off a weapon of mass destruction in a garbage can in a shopping mall. Now can you send me some money?"
Shareef and the informant also allegedly made videotapes of the type "commonly made by individuals planning attacks on civilians as part of violent jihad," according to the FBI and Justice.
Shareef and the informant made these videotapes? This looks more and more like a sting all the time.

How did that work? Maybe the "informant" told Shareef: "I can get you some hand grenades, but you'll have to make an incriminating videotape first." And Derrick Shareef didn't see anything unusual about such a request?

It makes the sting so much easier when the alleged terrorist's elevator doesn't go all the way to the top.


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