William Chrisman [photo] testified on November 28 and 29 in a hearing in the case against former US Navy signalman Hassan Abujihaad, taking the stand just hours after Derrick Shareef, whom Chrisman entrapped, pleaded guilty in Chicago.
Shareef had previously pleaded not guilty to a charge involving the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
In celebration of Chrisman's victory over the forces of trans-American terrorism, the New Haven Independent ran a photo of Chrisman -- apparently ending his career as an undercover agent.
That photo has since been removed. But it hasn't been lost.
William ChrismanWilliam Chrisman got into lots of trouble as a gang member in Camden, New Jersey.
He was convicted of two felonies: armed robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle; he says he also sold crack cocaine.
While in prison, William Chrisman converted to Islam, and now he is also known as Jameel or Jamaal Chrisman (or Crisman).
Chrisman says he wanted to join the military during the first Gulf War but he was refused because of his convictions.
“After 9/11, all the Salaafi scholars came out with a ruling,” Chrisman said — “it is imperative for Muslims to stop terrorism.”So, according to Chrisman, he volunteered to do counter-terror work for the FBI.
Crisman's name has come to light recently because of his role in the arrests of Derrick Shareef and Hassan Abujihaad, both of whom have been mentioned quite frequently in this space during the past year or so.
Derrick ShareefOn December 6, 2006, Derrick Shareef (aka Talib Abu Salam Ibn Shareef) [sketch] tried to trade a pair of stereo speakers for four hand grenades, a handgun and some ammunition.
He and an accomplice had planned to detonate the grenades in CherryVale Mall, Rockford, Illinois, on the Friday before Christmas.
But the grenades and ammo were duds and Shareef was arrested immediately after receiving them.
The "arms dealer" who supplied the nonfunctional weaponry was an FBI agent.
And the accomplice who set up the deal was FBI informant William Chrisman.
Hassan AbujihaadHassan Abujihaad (also Abu-Jihaad), formerly Paul R. Hall [photo], was a signalman in the US Navy, serving aboard the USS Benfold in 2000 and 2001.
During that time he corresponded by email with Babar Ahmad, alleged supporter of terrorists and allegedly the proprietor of various pro-terrorist websites including Azzam Publications.
Authorities say Abujihaad shared secret information about ship movements and the best ways to attack them.
Abujihaad, whose chosen name means "Father Of The Holy War", was arrested in March of 2007, in Phoenix , Arizona, after a long investigation.
He is being held without bail in New Haven, Connecticut, charged with two counts of supporting terrorists.
His trial is scheduled to begin in March, 2008.
The Story So FarThe following timeline is reconstructed from sources including the affidavit filed against Derrick Shareef in Chicago last December and news reports from last week's hearing in New Haven, Connecticut. [Follow the links for additional information.]
2000: Hassan Abujihaad is in the US Navy, serving as a signalman aboard the USS Benfold.
October 12, 2000: Seventeen US Navy sailors are killed when their ship, the USS Cole, is attacked Aden, Yemen.
April, 2001: While still serving as a signalman aboard the USS Benfold, Abujihaad allegedly corresponds with Babar Ahmad, through Azzam Publications.
Abujihaad buys three jihadi videos, at least one of which he has delivered to him aboard the Benfold [photo]. Abujihaad also allegedly sends Ahmad confidential US Navy information.
April 29, 2001: USS Benfold sails through the Strait of Hormuz.
July, 2001: Abujihaad allegedly sends more email to Azzam Publications, praising Islamist fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.
January, 2002: Hassan Abujihaad is granted an honorable discharge from the US Navy.
2003: Abujihaad meets Derrick Shareef at a mosque in Phoenix.
Shareef and Abujihaad live together for seven months in 2003 and 2004.
December 2nd 2003: Babar Ahmad is arrested in Britain. He is kept in police custody and questioned for six days. His house is searched intensively for three days. His computers, printer and various documents are taken away for analysis. Samples of his DNA and fingerprints are distributed to law enforcement agencies in several countries.
December 8, 2003: Babar Ahmad is released without charge.
August 5, 2004: Babar Ahmad [photo] is arrested a second time.
Telegraph: The Imperial College student accused of waging jihad in South Kensington
British police say that among Babar Ahmad's possessions, investigators find a computer (or a floppy disk -- reports vary) containing naval intelligence.
BBC News: Terror suspect 'had naval plans'
The information they characterize as "secret" could have come from Abujihaad aboard the USS Benfold.
Authorities say the information found on Ahmad's computer includes the date on which the Abujihaad and the USS Benfold's battle group would be moving through the Strait of Hormuz as well as the formation in which they would be sailing.
Further information sent to Azzam Publications allegedly describes the best way to attack them.
Other messages from Abujihaad allegedly describe the US military as "scary pussies" and praise the 2000 attack on the USS Cole as "a martyrdom operation".
Prosecutors would clearly love to nail Abujihaad for treason but they have no proof that he sent the "secret information", which on closer examination turns out to be not so secret after all. So they start an investigation, but it doesn't lead anywhere ... yet.
BBC News: The battle to banish Babar Ahmad
"If you're supporting the Taleban and the Taleban is killing American soldiers, we're alleging you're conspiring to kill American citizens abroad," Connecticut US Attorney Kevin O'Connor said in October 2004.September / October 2006: William Chrisman is sent to Rockford, Illinois (just west of Chicago) to meet Derrick Shareef.
Chrisman finds Shareef working in a video store in Rockford, Illinois. Shareef has no place to live and is about to move in with the store manager.
Chrisman offers Shareef an alternative, and less than eight hours later Shareef moves in with Chrisman -- and his three wives and nine children!
Until Shareef is arrested in December, Chrisman will record every conversation between himself and his "target".
But Shareef suspects nothing. And they talk.
Shareef tells Chrisman about his friend Hassan Abujihaad.
Shareef says he was with Abujihaad when Abujihaad learned of Babar Ahmad's second arrest, in 2004, and that Abujihaad said "I think this is about me".
Shareef tells Chrisman about plots he and Abujihaad had discussed, including an armed assault on a recruiting office in Phoenix and a coorinated attack on a Naval base in San Diego. None of these plots ever got beyond the discussion phase, and all this is hearsay.
Chrisman wants more.
He sends Abujihaad books to gain his confidence, and starts trying to corroborate the information he's been getting from Derrick Shareef.
He also starts trying to push the old plot against the base in San Diego.
November 2006: Chrisman and Shareef write and record martyrdom videos.
Chrisman presses Abujihaad for more information.
Abujihaad begins to speak in code.
Abujihaad says "Under the Black Leaves" for the initials UBL meaning Osama (Usama) bin Laden. He uses "L" to mean logistics and he refers to plots as meals: "cold meals" are obsolete but "fresh meals" are still considered viable.
Abujihaad correctly suspects the FBI is monitoring his conversations, but he doesn't seem to suspect that he's speaking (directly and indirectly through Shareef) to an FBI informant.
November 30, 2006: Chrisman gets a phone call from the undercover FBI agent posing as a weapons dealer, asking whether Shareef is ready to buy any weapons. Chrisman and Shareef then talk about "places where they could conduct an attack against civilians."
From the affidavit filed against Derrick Shareef, written by FBI agent Jared Ruddy:
Chrisman asked if Shareef believed it was a better idea to “hit the mall”.An attack against a facility involved in interstate commerce is clearly a federal offense.
Shareef responded that the mall was “just one potential place.”
Chrisman: “I mean, alright, we gotta look at it this way, we want to disrupt Christmas.”
Shareef: “Oh hell yeah, the mall is where it’s at.”
Chrisman then asked Shareef if he believed that they needed grenades for the attack.The last thing Shareef is thinking of is a damn grenade! It's a good thing Chrisman thought of it!
Shareef responded that they did.
Chrisman: “You go in there and toss a grenade, and no one’s gonna know who did it.”
Shareef: “No one’s gonna be expecting no shit like that.”
Shareef: “The last thing anybody gonna be thinking about at the mall is a damn grenade.”
Chrisman: “What targets you wanna hit, the mall’s good?”That's it!
Shareef: “Any place that’s crowded, like a mall is good, anything, any government facility is good.”
Shareef: “Here, we’re gonna check out some places, see where you could possibly lob one, do you toss it, do you, could you just sit it down and tip off, speed walk away.”
You just sit it down and tip off! You just speed walk away!!
December 1, 2006: Chrisman hears from the undercover arms dealer and now he tries to solidify the weapons deal with Shareef.
Chrisman: “He said he had an order for 11, . . . 11 pineapples.”Shareef, for all his martyrdom video bravado, does not want to die. He's trying to figure out how to detonate multiple grenades in a shopping mall -- and survive!
Shareef: “Shit, did he do that so he could give ‘em to us wholesale?”
Chrisman: “No, he said that he’d sell them to us for $50 a pop.”
So Chrisman lies to him about how the grenades ("the pineapples") work:
Chrisman: “You can change the time up to 15 seconds.”Sure, Derrick. That shit gonna be like Boom!
Shareef: “How do you do that?,”
Chrisman: “You crank it, there’s a crank on it.”
Shareef: How do you know you cranking that shit the right way?,”
Chrisman: “You gotta listen.”
Shareef: “And then explode.”
Chrisman: “He said the longer you take, the harder the pin, the harder the hammer.”
Shareef: “So that shit gonna be like Boom!”
Chrisman takes Shareef to the CherryVale Mall. They've already cased the place once before; now they go back again. And when they get there:
Chrisman: “This place gonna be tore up in about two weeks.”Shareef, still looking to save his hide, suggests detonating the grenades in garbage cans. The cans would contain the shrapnel and direct the blast upwards, causing much less damage to shoppers than if they were detonated in the open. But Chrisman is so delighted to see any sign of cooperation from Shareef that he actually compliments him on this exceedingly stupid idea:
Chrisman: “I’m glad you came up with the idea, though, the garbage can. That’s sweet.”Right, Derrick! All the people are gonna get killed by flying paper cups!
Shareef: “That’s pandemonium. The garbage going to be shrapnel.”
Chrisman can't supply the money (or even the speakers) for the grenades -- unless he wants to entrap himself. So he keeps pushing Shareef:
Chrisman: “Don’t forget, man, we should get the grenades some time next week.”December 6, 2006: Chrisman and Shareef go for a drive in Chrisman's car. They pick up Shareef's speakers, then Chrisman drives Shareef to a store parking lot for his meeting with the phony "arms dealer" (the undercover agent or UCA).
Chrisman: “So you should try to get as much flous [an Arabic term for money] as you can get ‘cause we need it.”
Shareef: “I got a little change in the bank.”
Chrisman: “All you need is like $100, that’s two grenades.”
Shareef then opened the trunk to Chrisman’s vehicle and showed the UCA a set of speakers.Chrisman knows many things Shareef doesn't -- including the fact that the "arms deal" is being recorded. He wouldn't want to appear in the video, would he?
After a brief discussion about the speakers, Shareef picked up the speakers and carried them to the open trunk of the UCA’s vehicle.
Chrisman did not walk with Shareef and the UCA to the UCA’s car.
At the trunk of the UCA’s vehicle, the UCA advised Shareef that he had locked the weapons in a lock box, and he kept them in a lock box in the event police ever stopped him.Shareef must realize at this point that Chrisman was lying about the fifteen second lead time, and may be hoping to forget about the whole idea in view of this very inconvenient fact. But he has no idea how many other things Chrisman has been lying about, and he also has no idea that his luck has just run out!
The UCA then opened a lock box in the trunk of his vehicle and showed Shareef four non-functioning grenades, a 9 millimeter hand gun, and several rounds of non-functioning ammunition.
Shareef asked the UCA how long between the time the grenade pin was pulled and the time that the grenade went off.
The UCA explained that the time was approximately three to five seconds.
The UCA then closed the lock box, Shareef took key to the lock box, and Shareef picked up the lock box. Shareef then placed the lock box containing the purported weapons inside the trunk of Chrisman’s car. At the time that Shareef placed the lock box in the trunk, the UCA gave a pre-determined signal to agents who were surveilling the transaction, and the agents arrested Shareef without incident.So let us recap, shall we? Derrick Shareef was arrested after placing a box of non-functional grenades in the trunk of Chrisman's car, after being driven by Chrisman to a meeting set up by Chrisman in order to get the grenades as suggested by Chrisman for the attack on the CherryVale Mall as suggested by Chrisman -- who also pushed for a firm commitment to a date, because "we want to disrupt Christmas". Who's "we"??
Derrick Shareef has been in prison ever since, and will be for many years to come, no matter what happens next. And William Chrisman is a hero.
The billions of dollars we spend every year on security protects us against what?
Winter Patriot: Rockford, Illinois: Terrorist Plot Foiled? Or Just Another Knucklehead Stung?
Chrisman calls Abujihaad to tell him about Shareef's arrest and presses for a confession.
Meanwhile, details emerging from the affidavit filed against Shareef scream "entrapment!"
WP: More on Derrick Shareef, the "Air Grenadist" of Rockford, Illinois
A week and a half after the arrest, in Rockford, Illinois, residents finally begin to relax after a jolt of fear.
WP: Rockford Breathes a Sigh of Relief, Safe from the Menace of Derrick Shareef
December 20, 2006: Shareef [sketch] waives two hearings: one in which the government would have been required to present evidence against him, the other in which he could have requested bail.
And it turns out that the law under which Shareef is charged defines a grenade as a weapon of mass destruction.
WP: Appearances: Derrick Shareef Appears In Court; US Invasion of Iraq Appears Justified
January 2007: The Shareef story makes international news.
WP: Jerusalem Post Stokes The War On Muslims Even "Better" Than FOX "News"!
January 9, 2007: Derrick Shareef pleads not guilty on one count pertaining to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and a second count of conspiracy to commit arson in a facility used for interstate commerce.
WP: Derrick Shareef Pleads Not Guilty -- Trial Date To Be Set Next Month
February 23, 2007: U.S. District Judge David H. Coar orders a psychological examination to determine whether Shareef is fit for trial.
WP: Judge Orders Tests To Determine Whether Alleged Terrorist Wannabe Derrick Shareef Is Competent To Stand Trial
March 7, 2007: Hassan Abujihaad is arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, where he had been working for a parcel delivery service.
Terror charges for ex-US sailor
Abujihaad is taken to New Haven, Connecticut to await trial on charges of supporting terrorism in connection with the secrets he allegedly sent to Babar Ahmad via email from the USS Benfold.
The trial is in Connecticut because Babar Ahmad's Azzam Publications once used a server located there.
Tim Gaynor of Reuters via The Scotsman:
Former U.S. sailor arrested on terror charges
March 23, 2007: Abujihaad is indicted, charged with two counts: "material support of terrorism" and "disclosing previously classified information relating to the national defense".
April 4, 2007: Abujihaad pleads not guilty.
WP: Former USN Enlistee Pleads Not Guilty To Spying For Terrorists
WP: Ex-USN 'Terror-Spy' Knew Derrick Shareef Before He Was A Detonator
George Smith, Dick Destiny, The Register, April 12, 2007
Loose mouth and loose change - $5 tip leads to terror finance rap
May 23, 2007: Derrick Shareef is found competent to stand trial.
WP: Air Grenadist Cleared For Courthouse Performance, But No Date Set
May 24, 2007: Abujihaad is denied bail. Federal prosecutors admit they have no "forensic footprint" linking the information found on Ahmad's disk with Hassan Abujihaad.
WP: 'Father Of The Holy War' To Be Held Without Bail As Bogus Alleged Plots Grow And Intertwine
November 22, 2007: The trial of Hassan Abujihaad is scheduled to begin February 25, 2008.
WP: Trial Date Set For 'Father Of The Holy War' And His $5 Terrorist Tip
Morning of November 28, 2007: In New Haven, FBI agent David G. Dillon [photo] testifies against Hassan Abujihaad and plays recordings made by William Chrisman.
Dillon explains what the recorded conversations mean; that "under the black leaves" means Osama bin Laden, and so on.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Derrick Shareef changes his plea from "not guilty" to "guilty" on one of his two charges -- the attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. The government will not reveal whether Shareef is cooperating in the investigation against Abujihaad, but it has been reported that the second charge against Shareef, pertaining to arson and interstate commerce, will probably be dropped.
In connection with this story it is reported for the first time that Shareef's trial was scheduled to begin December 10, 2007. Now it is not clear whether Derrick Shareef will ever come to trial.
Afternoon of November 28, 2007: William Chrisman takes the stand in New Haven, where he testifies for the afternoon and much of the following day. In his testimony, Chrisman discloses certain details which might have been useful for an entrapment defense on behalf of Derrick Shareef, had Shareef not already changed his plea.
WP: Government Tries To Introduce New Evidence Against 'Father Of The Holy War'
November 29, 2007: New Haven Independent runs an article called "Betrayal Revealed" with a photo of William Chrisman alongside FBI agent David Dillon. It's the only known photo of Chrisman. Why did the FBI decide to burn him?
And how did they get Derrick Shareef to plead guilty in Illinois just hours before William Chrisman appeared in court in Connecticut and explained how Shareef came to be arrested?
before December 5, 2007: New Haven Independent removes the photograph of Chrisman and Dillon from "Betrayal Revealed" and replaces it with a shot of a US Attorney and a paralegal. Apparently the FBI didn't intend to burn Chrisman after all.
December 10, 2007: Trial of Derrick Shareef potentially scheduled to begin.
January 4, 2008: US District Judge Mark Kravitz will hear oral arguments and then rule on whether the newly disclosed information can be considered as evidence against Abujihaad in his upcoming trial.
February 25, 2008: Trial of Hassan Abujihaad scheduled to begin.
Unanswered QuestionsIt's been interesting so far, but what's even more interesting is what we haven't been told.
How much has the FBI paid Chrisman for his "volunteer" counter-terror work? He says he was paid $8,500 for the two months he worked on the Shareef case, plus $1,200 for the cases he worked on in the four previous years. David Dillon testified that the FBI had paid Chrisman $22,000 so far.
Why did the FBI send Chrisman to meet Shareef?
Why did Shareef change his plea to guilty? Is there a secret arrangement in place? And has Shareef been cooperating with the investigation of Abujihaad?
How did the feds manage to get Shareef to change his plea on the same day that Chrisman first testified in court? Were they concerned that if Shareef and his attorney knew what Chrisman was saying in New Haven, they might claim entrapment?
What kind of legal representation has Shareef been getting? He waived his bail hearing. He waived the evidentiary hearing. He pleaded guilty before the trail was scheduled to start. So far, he's liable for a minimum of 20 years (some say 30), and the government hasn't had to present a single bit of evidence against him. Must be nice!
Why did the feds decide to burn Chrisman? He is burned, isn't he? Or do the feds think Muslims will fall for his game again? On second thought, some of them might. If they're as clueless as Derrick Shareef, they'll fall for anything. But if chumps like Shareef are not instigated, how much danger do they really pose?
Will the judge allow all this new evidence to be introduced against Abujihaad at trial? It's all hearsay (Shareef says Abujihaad told him he gave secrets to Ahmad but Abujihaad denies it) or irrelevant (even if Abujihaad and Shareef did discuss attacking a base in San Diego, that doesn't prove Abujihaad gave secrets to terrorists) or illegally gathered (according to Abujihaad's attorneys, Dan E. LaBelle and Robert G. Golger, who point to portions of the USA PATRIOT Act struck down in September by a judge in another case).
Some observers think the FBI has turned its big guns against Abujihaad because he might get them Babar Ahmad, which would be a propaganda coup if nothing else.
There's also the considerable propaganda value to be had if they can convict Abujihaad; already Shareef is being described as a "convicted mall bomber" even though he never bombed anything -- and to the best of our knowledge, never hurt anybody!
As for William Chrisman, the FBI probably didn't count on photographs of him being published.
But they can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, can they? Oh well.
The Big PictureIn a country of 300 million, at least 2 million of whom are in prison, does it really matter, in the big picture, whether another entrapment victim spends most of his life in jail? Probably not.
If Abujihaad is guilty as charged, then he deserves to be punished. I can't see anything other than entrapment in the Shareef case.
For some people, this case is about exposing an international terrorist conspiracy, but the conspiracy they're trying to expose probably doesn't exist:
According to US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald,
"If [Shareef] was being directed by overseas terrorists, he wouldn't have been trading two stereo speakers to buy grenades."For others, it's about something much more sinister.
Derrick Shareef, "the convicted mall bomber" has become a poster child for the Homegrown Terrorist Fearmongering Campaign, along with such notables as Matin Siraj, the so-called "convicted subway bomber".
Siraj was entrapped by Osama Eldawoody [photo], who is now collecting $3200 a month from the NYPD because his exposure has ruined his career as an informant, but his work as an informant has ruined his credibility to the point that can't get a job anywhere else.
Siraj, the "subway bomber", didn't have a bomb of any kind -- not even a dud!
And yet, because of Shareef and Siraj and some other dolts entrapped by FBI informants, we have to give up our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms!
It's not as if there were no other options.
A Smarter Approach To TerrorTo an independent observer who is not involved in trying to sell fear and propaganda to enrich those in the security and prison industries, and who is seriously interested in reducing the already very slight risk of non-state-sponsored terrorism, many smarter approaches to handling terrorist wannabes like Derrick Shareef and gullible fools like Matin Siraj [photo] suggest themselves.
I submit that it would have been much less costly, and equally or even more effective in the grand scale of things, to send someone to see Derrick Shareef, not with the intention of putting him in prison for the rest of his life, but of helping him to get his life straightened out. I don't mean a babysitter to sit with him and pamper him. I mean a belt across the head from an Arabic-speaking Muslim who says:
LISTEN UP, CHUMP!Instead it's
One: Terrorism is not Allah's way. If you're upset because of the way the US hurts innocent Muslims, that's understandable. But if you attack innocent people because of it, then you're no better than they are.
Two: If you attack people here, it will give the warmongers the pretext they're looking for: to feed the war in the Middle East and to crack down on Muslims (and others) in the US.
Three: You don't have any weapons, you don't have any independent access to weapons, you don't have any money to buy weapons even if you had access, and you don't have any knowledge of weapons. You don't have any common sense either, so you're not likely to do much damage -- except to yourself.
Four: The government already knows all about you! Why do you think I'm here? And we're watching you, because we know you're a chump! So smarten up, and you might even keep your poor dumb ass out of jail for a while!
Come and live with me and my three wives and my nine kids, because I'm a Muslim and I know Muslims are supposed to look after one another.The War on Terror has changed everything and now there are certain types of crimes for which the regular laws no longer apply. Entrapment used to be considered "a complete defense" -- if you could prove you were enticed into committing a crime that was all you needed to do: you walked! Now, if the crime of which you are accused involves terrorism, entrapment is no longer a complete defense; it's not a defense at all.
What do you want to attack? The mall's good! because I'm a counter-terrorist so my job is to instigate terrorism.
Do you think we need grenades for that? I can get some! even though this is clearly entrapment, that doesn't even matter anymore.
And that's just part of the problem.
~~~ news ~~~
Melissa Bailey in the New Haven Independent, November 28, 2007:
Ode To Osama
Josh Meyer in the Los Angeles Times, November 29, 2007:
Ex-sailor accused of plotting to attack San Diego base
John Christoffersen of the Associated Press in Newsday, November 29, 2007:
Government plays more coded calls in sailor terrorism hearing
Michael P. Mayko in the Connecticut Post, November 29, 2007:
FBI informant testifies in terror case
Melissa Bailey in the New Haven Independent, November 29, 2007:
Alison Leigh Cowan in the New York Times, November 29, 2007:
Federal Informer Testifies Against Sailor Accused of Aiding Terrorism
John Christoffersen of the Associated Press in the Washington Post, December 2, 2007:
FBI Informant's Role Emerges in Court Hearing
~~~ views ~~~
George Smith, Dick Destiny, November 29, 2007:
US NURSES TERROR CASE IN PRESS: Grim prospects for Hassan Abujihaad
George Smith, Dick Destiny, December 2, 2007:
ROTTEN EGG INFORMANT IN TERROR CASE: So-called patriot
Scott P. Richert, Chronicles Magazine dot org (Your Home for Traditional Conservatism), December 4, 2007:
Muslim Terrorists in Court: The Dominoes Start to Fall
~~~ related WP series ~~~
Derrick And The Detonators
Father of the Holy War
Remember Me To Herald Square