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Friday, December 08, 2006

Feds: Man Planned to Blow Up Ill. Mall

A man who authorities said wanted to commit acts of "violent jihad" against civilians was charged Friday in a plot to set off hand grenades in garbage cans at a shopping mall, authorities said.

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

Shareef was acting alone and not in concert with any terrorist group, authorities said.

Officials said Shareef had been under investigation since September, when he told an acquaintance that "he wanted to commit acts of violent jihad against targets in the United States as well as commit other crimes."

The acquaintance immediately informed the FBI, officials said.

Federal officials said Shareef planned to set off four hand grenades in garbage cans at the CherryVale shopping mall in Rockford, about 90 miles northwest of Chicago.

He 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.

"While these are very serious charges, at no time was the public in any imminent peril," U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a news release.

Other potential targets that Shareef allegedly discussed included government facilities such as courthouses and city hall, authorities said.

Shareef and his acquaintance cased the CherryVale Mall on Nov. 30, discussing the layout and spots where they might set off several grenades simultaneously to create more pandemonium, according to an FBI affidavit.

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