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December 8, 2006
Wannabe Jihadi, Take 2

Six months ago, the FBI took down a ring of wannabe jihadis with large aspirations for terrorism and small mental capacities to conduct it. Apparently, they discovered another benighted aspirant to radical Islam in the person of Derrick Shareef, whose brilliant cunning allowed him to get caught in a sting before he ever bought his first hand grenade:

A man has been arrested by federal agents on charges of planning to set off hand grenades at an Illinois shopping mall on Dec. 22 as part of his plan to commit "violent jihad" against civilians.

Derrick Shareef, 22, of Rockford, was arrested when he carried out a rendezvous with an undercover agent in a parking lot to trade a set of stereo speakers for four grenades and a handgun.

Federal officials said he planned to place the grenades in garbage cans at the CherryVale shopping mall in Rockford, about 90 miles northwest of Chicago.

Shareef was charged with one count of attempting to damage or destroy a building by fire or explosion and one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Officials say he was acting alone and there was never any real threat.

The WMD charge seems like a stretch, given the details of the arrest. I suppose one could make an argument that a grenade would cause massive damage, but that's putting a rather mundane twist on WMD. Using that definition, every nation in the world would have WMD, including Saddam's Iraq and the Swiss. Normally, WMD would indicate chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. I expect that the WMD charge will eventually disappear, either by the prosecutor dropping it or the judge dismissing it.

However, just as with the Miami ring of idiots, this guy should face charges of criminal stupidity. Michelle Malkin has excerpts from the affadavit, and they're entertaining. Shareef had already made his video will, a nice little piece of evidence that will go a long way to convincing a jury that this was no lark. He also picked his friends rather stupidly, as he spilled his entire plan to a partner that had already started working with the FBI. This criminal mastermind then traded his stereo speakers to buy four grenades and a gun instead of using somewhat less traceable cash -- but given that the FBI conducted the transaction, it made little difference.

This is not to say that Shareef didn't pose a danger to the community. Had he acquired his grenades without detection, he likely would have killed several people in the crowded mall. We were fortunate that Shareef couldn't jihad his way out of a paper bag, and also that the FBI somehow managed to have a confidential informant at the right place and time. If that seems a little coincidental, perhaps we should understand that our long streak without an attack doesn't come from pure luck.

Shareef may have been a lone wolf, as the FBI said, but the lone wolves are the ones we have to fret. Conspiracies involve a lot of communications, with exposure possible at many points. A competent jihadi operating alone could cause a lot of damage, and it's more impressive to me that the FBI managed to snag Shareef. Nice work, guys.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 8, 2006 8:07 PM

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» Chicago Mall Terrorist Plot Foiled By Feds from Bill's Bites
... "Shareef." That's Swedish, right? And probably Hindu. *** Michelle has much more here. A Swedish Hindu, just like I figured [Read More]

Tracked on December 8, 2006 9:00 PM

» Breaking...Man Of Middle-Eastern Descent Arrested For Planning Terrorist Act In Illinois from Scottish Right
One final thought. I find it interesting that the local CBS News affiliate fails to use the words "middle east"or "Muslim." The only way to conclude that Shareef is of Middle Eastern descent is by reading his last name. If his name hadn't been inclu... [Read More]

Tracked on December 8, 2006 11:04 PM

» Associated Press Pro Journalist Cheat Sheet from Doug Ross @ Journal
Through a confidential informant, I've gotten access to an Associated Press cheat sheet. It provides their highly trained, professional journalists with crucial guidance on describing people and events. I reprint it here in its entirety. Don't thank ... [Read More]

Tracked on December 9, 2006 7:43 AM


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