CHICAGO (AP) – A Muslim convert is in custody accused of trying to trade two stereo speakers for a 9 mm pistol and the grenades authorities say he wanted to carry out an attack on holiday shoppers.

The FBI says it was tipped by an acquaintance of Derrick Shareef, then recorded the 22-year-old planning to use hand grenades to blow garbage cans into clouds of flying shrapnel in a crowded mall the Friday before Christmas.

“This is a warning to those who disbelieve,” he said, according to an FBI affidavit.

Authorities said he was arrested Wednesday when he tried to make the trade with an undercover agent in a Rockford parking lot. Shareef was charged Friday with crimes that could send him to prison for the rest of his life, and was ordered held without bail.

“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.

However, authorities said no one was in danger.

“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.

Defense attorney Michael B. Mann declined to comment.

According to the affidavit, Shareef had been under investigation since September, when he told an acquaintance “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.

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, and discussed other potential targets including government facilities such as courthouses and Rockford City Hall.

Rockford Mayor Lawrence Morrissey said Friday that officials would discuss whether security needed to be increased.

The affidavit quoted Shareef as saying:

“I just want to smoke a judge.”

Shareef and his acquaintance cased the mall Nov. 30, discussing the layout and spots where they might set off several grenades simultaneously to create pandemonium, according to the affidavit.

Shareef was born in the United States and converted to Islam, officials said.

The imam of the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford, Shpendim Nadzaku, commended authorities for intercepting the alleged plot and reiterated “the Muslim community’s condemnation of terrorism in the name of Islam.”

“No one in the community has any clue as to who this person is – he’s completely anonymous,” Nadzaku said.

No one answered a knock at the door Friday at a town house in Genoa, between Chicago and Rockford, that is the last known address for Shareef. A female inside was seen turning off a light as a reporter stood outside.

Shareef 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. The latter charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Associated Press Writer Nathaniel Hernandez contributed to this report.

AP-ES-12-09-06 1027EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.