A Chicago-area man has been charged in an alleged plot to attack a local mall and government buildings.
Derrick Shareef was arrested Wednesday as he attempted to buy grenades and a handgun from an undercover FBI agent posing as a weapons dealer.
In September, Shareef became acquainted with a confidential witness who was cooperating with the FBI and confided to him that he wanted to commit acts of violent jihad against civilians.
On Dec. 2, Shareef and the confidential source made video tapes that included a last will and testament for each. On the video, Shareef again mentioned jihad and said, "This is a warning to those who disbelieve, that we are here for you and I am ready to give my life."
According to the complaint filed today in Chicago, Shareef also discussed attacking local buildings on several occasions, including city hall, the federal courthouse and the shopping center.
In Chicago, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said, "While these are very serious charges, at no time was the public in any imminent peril as a result of the defendant's activities."
According to Justice Department officials, Shareef was under almost constant video surveillance in the days leading up to his arrest.
In a series of undercover records, Shareef discussed with the confidential source shooting a judge in DeKalb, Ill., and targeting government buildings in the Chicago area.
In a Nov. 30 covertly recorded conversation, the confidential source and Shareef discussed attacking a mall. The confidential source said, "You go in there and toss a grenade, and no one's gonna know who did it." Shareef replied, "No one's gonna be expecting no s--t like that. ...The last thing anybody's gonna be thinking about at the mall is a damn grenade."
According to the FBI affidavit detailing the conversations, Shareef later told the informant about the targets he wanted to attack. "Any place that's crowded, like a mall is good, anything, any government facility is good," Shareef said.
On Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, Shareef and the informant visited the CherryVale mall in Rockford, Ill. As the two men cased the mall, allegedly plotting a grenade attack, FBI surveillance teams monitored.
In discussions with the informant, Shareef said that during Israel's recent conflict with Hezbollah, he considered attacking Jewish people and a synagogue in the DeKalb area.
In the affidavit filed in court, FBI agent Jared Ruddy noted that after casing the mall, the two "engaged in a discussion about shaving their body hair and meditating to prepare. Based on my training and experience, as well as the context of the call, I believe that the [confidential source] and Shareef were discussing the preparations they would undertake prior to committing an attack."
The next day, Shareef and the informant made videotaped last wills and testaments, in which Shareef said, "This tape is to let you guys know, who disbelieve in Allah, to let the enemies of Islam know, and to let the Muslims alike know that the time for jihad is now."
As the informant and Shareef further discussed their plans, Shareef spoke with the undercover FBI agent on the case who was posing as the weapons dealer. According to court documents, Shareef was to trade a set of stereo speakers for four grenades and a 9mm handgun.
When the informant, Shareef and the undercover agent met on Dec. 6, Shareef exchanged the speakers for four dud grenades and the handgun and ammunition. After the exchange, Shareef was taken into custody by FBI agents.
At his initial court appearance in Chicago this afternoon, Shareef did not enter a plea. He will remain in custody until his next court appearance on Dec. 20.