23-year-old pleads guilty to 'jihad' plot at Rockford mall

Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) - A 23-year-old man who once dreamed of waging violent jihad in Illinois now faces 30 years to life when he's sentenced next year.

Derrick Shareef pleaded guilty today to plotting a hand grenade attack on a Rockford mall crowded with Christmas shoppers.

The softspoken, bushy bearded man was apparently inspired by the violent acts of Mideast terrorists.

The case drew nationwide attention when Shareef was arrested in December 2006. But prosecutors have said he was under close surveillance as he planned his attack.

Although he pleaded guilty, Shareef said he hadn't intended to hurt anyone and was "coerced into doing things."

But federal officials reject any suggestion Shareef was simply a disturbed wannabe full of fantasies and not a serious threat.

Shareef will be sentenced on March 14th.

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