U.S. News

Man guilty in grenade plot on shopping mall

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A man charged with plotting to set off hand grenades inside a shopping mall in what the FBI said he intended to be a “violent jihad” pleaded guilty in the case on Wednesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said Derrick Shareef, 23, of Rockford, Illinois, a U.S.-born convert to Islam, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

He will be sentenced next March and could face up to life in prison.

Shareef was arrested nearly a year ago by agents of the FBI-led Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force after he met with an undercover agent to trade a set of stereo speakers for four hand grenades and a hand gun.

Agents said he planned to set off the grenades inside a Rockford-area mall during last year’s Christmas shopping season. In an affidavit filed when he was arrested an FBI agent said Shareef had said he “wanted to commit violent jihad against targets in the United States.”

Investigators said he appeared to be operating on his own and was not taking orders from anyone else. They said he had been under surveillance from the very beginning of his plotting and the public was never in danger.

Reporting by Michael Conlon; editing by Todd Eastham