Rockford Register Star: Terror-plot suspect may aid in case of leaked info

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Terror-plot suspect may aid in case of leaked info

by Mike Wiser | March 10, 2007

The man accused of wanting to kill holiday shoppers at CherryVale Mall has been linked to a man who allegedly supplied classified military information to London-based terrorists.

And authorities have used some statements made by alleged bomb-plotter Derrick Shareef to build their case against Hassan Abujihaad, who they say was the source of the leaked information.

According to a U.S. Justice Department affidavit, Abujihaad, who was arrested Wednesday, and Shareef were roommates in Arizona in 2004.

The case against Abujihaad, who also went by the name Paul Hall and was a member of the U.S. Navy until his honorable discharge on Jan. 25, 2002, revolves around his alleged communication with two men who provided support and assistance to the Chechen mujahedeen, the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

Specifically, the government says that Abujihaad sent these men e-mails of support and information about U.S. naval battlegroup movements in the Persian Gulf in 2001.

The affidavit in the case against Abujihaad says that Shareef was with Abujihaad in 2004 while Abujihaad was reading a Washington Post article about the arrest of the London terrorists and the leaked documents.

Although the Post story did not mention Abujihaad, he allegedly told Shareef “‘I think this is about me’ or ‘I think this article is talking about me,’” according to the affidavit.

“According to Shareef, upon realizing and stating that the article was about him, Abujihaad became visibly upset and emotional and began to cry.”

Shareef allegedly shared this story with authorities after his Dec. 6, 2006, arrest. He was arrested in Rockford after he purchased some non-functioning grenades and pistols from an undercover agent who was working with the government.

The Justice Department claims that Shareef wanted to use the weapons (which he did not know were duds) to wage jihad by killing patrons of CherryVale Mall.

The document also says that upon learning of Shareef’s arrest, Abujihaad became concerned about what Shareef might say to authorities and expressed those concerns to a source that Abujihaad did not know was working for the Justice Department.

“‘Derek’s (sic) got a big mouth ... Dude came over here with some (expletive), talking about ... and he just trying to blow himself up so he throw my name into it,’” Abujihaad allegedly said.

“‘All it takes is for him now just to say something,’” the source replied.

“To which Abujihaad responds, ‘He probably already did,’” according to the affidavit.

Shareef is being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. He has complained about the conditions under which he is being held and has also been ordered to have a psychological evaluation.

Results of that evaluation are expected to be presented in court in April.