December 22, 2006: Foiled jihadi Christmas attack

On this day in 2006 an American jihadi was foiled in his attempt to bomb a Chicago mall at Christmas.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – How much more of a ‘Scrooge’ can one get? Planning an attack on a shopping mall before Christmas!

What with COVID-19 and all I know that many retailers are hurting this year. Social distancing and lockdowns have led to less traffic in stores and malls and I can only imagine the effect on the bottom line. I have read where the pandemic has forced many employers to let staff go: no money in, no money out.

The consequences of this disease are felt most appreciably at this time of year: i.e. Christmas. A lot of companies make most of their money during this season and I would bet that the difference between being in the red and being in the black hinges on a good Christmas rush.

On the other hand, if you are a terrorist what better attack vector? Lots of people. Confined space. Distracted minds (I NEED that pair of socks!!). Hitting at both the economy of the hated West AND a Christian (i.e. apostate) holiday. A target made in heaven!

Not surprisingly then, we do see plots aimed at the Christmas period (such as the Berlin Christmas market attack featured a few days ago). And today’s offering.

On this day in 2006

An American jihadi, Derrick Shareef, conspired to plant hand grenades around the perimeter of a Chicago mall. Luckily for authorities, his supplier was an FBI informant. Shareef was arrested before he could follow through with his plans. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to 420 months (i.e. 35 years – are you listening Canadian courts??) in prison. He once said he admired bin Laden as a sheik and a scholar but has changed his views and opposes violence.

Too late Derrick!

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.

Robert Grant, the agent in charge of the Chicago FBI office.

A tragedy of unknown scale was averted thanks to great work by the FBI. Christmas was saved – and it did not take a toymaker!

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

Leave a Reply