Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I see the CherryVale Terrorist of Northern Illinois is going to have a court appearance today. Derrick Shareef was arrested two weeks ago for allegedly “plotting” to explode hand grenades in Rockford’s CherryVale Mall. There was a brief media terror-gasm over the arrest but the story quickly disappeared. This Rockford Register-Star story, to the paper’s credit, does give voice to the concerns some of us have with this case:
Philip B. Heymann, the James Barr Ames professor of law at Harvard Law School, whose specialties include political violence and terrorism, said the Shareef case sounds similar to other recent cases of alleged plots by homegrown terrorists.

In a recent Florida case, he said, a group of men were arrested after they attempted to buy explosives from an undercover government agent who said he could provide them with the means to blow up buildings. But the men really had no workable plan or connections to terrorist groups.

“These guys are kindling, they’re not the arsonists,” Heymann said.

For Heymann, it’s a question whether anything would have happened unless the government was not there to guide the would-be terrorists along, in essence turning a daydream of a plan to strike against Americans to something more serious.
Shareef is a total idiot who was led by the nose into this "plot". Read the ugly details here. Now, I’m not saying he’s “innocent” but there is little doubt in my mind that he never would have been plotting actual terrorism (much less capable of carrying it out) without the urging and assistance from the government.

Which brings me to the point of this post: I don’t like entrapment. Not just because it’s “unfair” but because it creates a moral dilemma I don’t like.

I’m not talking just about potential terrorism, but any sting-related bust, be it a bribe or solicitation of a prostitute. It sets up a situation that would not have existed (necessarily) had law enforcement not been actively cultivating the crime. Sure, the person caught in a sting displayed the potential for being a criminal and maybe it’s good they are caught before they commit a “real” crime, but it’s an artificial setting. I suspect a lot of people, if tempted at the right time and place or in a moment of weakness, might be shown to be potential criminals. I just don’t like the whole practice.

Update: Winter Patriot has more on the Derrick Shareef case.


JeromeProphet said...

Sounds like pretty good police work to me.

Oops, how could I say something like that?

We're not talking anything different that the same type of tactics employed to uncover similar plots by any other groups, or individuals as in the past.

For example KKK, NAZI, para military groups - right here in the U.S.

Not to mention the MAFIA.

And yes, the dumb ones will be the same people to get "entrapped" in each example.

You may be right, he may never have been a threat.

Yet, I do like the idea that we have this type of investigation taking place. Let the courts determine if he's guilty, and if it was entrapment. If it was he has his day in court.

So for now, I'll soothe my bleeding heart knowing that the FBI is actually doing what it needs to do to protect this nation - something I'm not always sure about (and which I still have very big doubts).


Winter Patriot said...

That's a good post. Can't say as much for the comment.

I'm with your post most of the way. I don't like entrapment either. But frankly this is not about entrapment. It's about terrorism. And I don't mean grenades going off in garbage cans. I mean the government terrorizing its own people.

First they set up this sting -- who knows how far back Shareef's relationship with the Confidential Source (CS) went? It could be that even the very idea of engaging in violent jihad was placed in Shareef's head by the CS -- and then they use it not only to put Shareef away (if they can; more on that later) but also -- more importantly -- to generate a big media deal about terrorists and scare the bejeebers out of people who really have nothing to worry about. This then feeds in to the War on Muslims and the increasing Militarization of America and even generates support for the War in Iraq (because "if we beat them over there we wouldn't have to fight them over here" or some such bullshit -- not that any of it is valid but the point is that some people believe it).

There is no way Shareef will be convicted of "attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction" when the "weapon" in question is a box of nonfunctional hand-grenades. That charge will have to be dropped. But that won't happen for another year or more, and in the meantime, they can make a lot of noise about this so-called "terrorist" and his so-called "weapon of mass destruction".

And that's why the first comment here was a bad one. We ARE talking about something VERY different than what happens in other sting operations. They don't catch a mafia wanna-be hit man, splash the news all over the country, and then clamp down on civil liberties. They just haul the guy off to prison. This is different in creepy, sinister ways.

Please don't read my blog.

Dave said...


I have no problem with (most) anti-terrorism efforts in general but this case is very odd. Did you follow the link I provided? This looks to me like a big waste of time. If indeed terrorism is such a great threat in this country then law enforcement must be letting a lot of real terrorist go undetected if this guy is the best they can do. Sorry, I don’t feel safer.

My larger point is about entrapment or sting operations though. Yes, there are good applications (mafia, etc.) but it can also be misused. The Shareef incident is my example in this case.

Dave said...


Nice blog but of course you’re right, no one should read it, especially George Will.

Anonymous said...

I did follow the link.
I did read it.

But I've lived long enough to have read, and heard, the same allegations many times before.

I am disturbed by the allegations. I'm always disturbed by the allegations.

I'm not insensitive to the allegations.

Anyone remember the Atlanta Olympic bombing in 1996 - the rush to judgement, and the eventual acquittal?

Yes, this is serious stuff.

Allegations have been made that the criminal justice system is too inept to protect the nation from terrorist, and therefore we need CIA, NSA, etc., to go beyond the constitution to protect us.

We can't have our cake, and eat it too fellas.

If this gentleman is being entrapped, the man will have his day before a judge, and a jury if he wishes. And there's always the appeals court, and even the Supreme Court (if applicable).

Every time I drive by a local police offer who is just sitting out in the dark parked right on the road - in total violation of the law - waiting for a speeder, or someone to blow off the stop sign - I wonder how can we tolerate such things.

Then I realize these are the same folk that keep my family safe at night.

You don't want to know the truth, because you can't handle the truth. Secretly you want me on that line, because you know, however revulting I may be to you, that I stand out on the line to keep you safe at night.

So criticize my comments, and even my blog at night - but until you wish to join me on that line all I ask is for you to stand down.