A 19-year-old Somali-born teenager attempted to detonate a van full of what he believed were explosives at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony yesterday evening in Portland, Oregon. Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized US citizen and student at Oregon State University, was arrested just as he attempted to set off the explosives via cell phone.
As reported in today’s New York Times, the bomb was a fake supplied by undercover FBI agents:
Yelling “Allahu Akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great!” — Mohamud tried to kick agents and police after he was taken into custody, according to prosecutors.
The FBI affidavit that outlined the investigation alleges that Mohamud planned the attack for months, at one point mailing bomb components to FBI operatives, whom he believed were assembling the device.
It said Mohamud was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could be killed, and that he could back out, but he told agents: “Since I was 15 I thought about all this;” and “It’s gonna be a fireworks show … a spectacular show.”
According to officials, Mohamud had been in contact with an ‘unnamed individual believed to be in northwest Pakistan and involved in terrorist activities,’ today’s Guardian reports.
Mohamud has been charged with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. He is to appear in court on Monday.
Federal agents had allowed Mohamud to proceed with the plot ‘in order to build up enough evidence to charge the suspect with attempt,’ according to the New York Times. Thousands of people were at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland and officials emphasized that the public was never in any danger.
Given the ‘recent spate of terror plans by U.S. citizens or residents’—-Faisal Shazhad’s plan to set off a bomb in Times Square; the ‘casing’ of Washington, DC-area subway stations by Farooque Ahmed of Virginia, as part of what he thought was an ‘al-Qaida plot to bomb and kill commuters’—-the public might be feeling a bit otherwise.
Photo by allaboutgeorge.