Friday, December 08, 2006

Terror plot at Rockford mall thwarted

A lone kook who converted to Islam was arrested for plotting a terror attack against a mall in Rockford, Illinois.

A Muslim convert who talked about his desire to wage jihad against civilians was charged Friday in a plot to set off hand grenades at a shopping mall at the height of the Christmas rush, authorities said.

Investigators said Derrick Shareef, 22, an American citizen from Rockford, was acting alone and never actually obtained any grenades. He 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 gun, authorities said.

"He fixed on a day of December 22nd on Friday ... because it was the Friday before Christmas and thought that would be the highest concentration of shoppers that he could kill and injure," said Robert Grant, the agent in charge of the Chicago FBI Office.

This is, for me, a little scarier than some other threats. First, that mall is an hour down the road from me and I've shopped there a handful of times. Second, I am going to be off on December 22nd, and who knows if fate would have found me at the CherryVale Mall in search of last minute Christmas gifts that day. Although I've been loathe to give voice to the idea, I think Sean's terror assessment is correct. This kind of thing is much more frightening to most Americans because everyone is vulnerable to it.

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