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Nov 27th, 2010


Somali-Born Teen Arrested in Car Bomb Plot

Feds supplied dud in sting at downtown Portland, Oregon, Christmas tree lighting ceremony

Image: Mohamed Osman Mohamud
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested and charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. (Photo credit: AP)

The Associated Press and NBC News via MSNBC.com
November 27, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Somali-born teenager plotted to carry out a car bomb attack at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in downtown Portland on Friday, but the bomb turned out to be a dud supplied by undercover agents as part of a sting, federal prosecutors said.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested at 5:40 p.m. just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would blow up a van laden with explosives but instead brought federal agents and Portland police swooping in to take him into custody.

The thwarted attack occurred at Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square before the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, The Oregonian reported.

Mohamud yelled “Allahu Akhbar” and tried to kick agents and police as the arrest came, according to prosecutors.

He was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

He is expected to make his first appearance in federal court in Portland on Monday, and faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, an FBI statement said.

Video

FBI sting thwarts Oregon teen’s bomb plot (NBC Nightly News, Nov. 27, 2010) – Nineteen-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud is in federal custody, accused of trying to set off what he thought was a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland. NBC’s Pete Williams reports. (02:58)

U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton released federal court documents Friday that show the sting operation began in June after an undercover agent learned that Mohamud had been in contact with an “unindicted associate” in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier region.

The sting operation involved the FBI, Oregon State Police, Portland Police Bureau, Corvallis Police Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

“The threat was very real. Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale,” said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. …

Mohamud is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has been living in Corvallis. NBC News reported that he is a college student.

Video

Officials probe Oregon bomb suspect’s Pakistan link (NBC “Today,” Nov. 28. 2010) – CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla speaks with NBC counterterrorism expert Roger Cressey. (03:02)

Coded language

According to a federal complaint, Mohamud was in regular email contact with the “unindicted associate” in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier starting in August 2009.

The complaint states that in December 2009 Mohamud and the “unindicted associate” used coded language in an email in which the FBI believes Mohamud discussed traveling to Pakistan to prepare for “violent jihad.”

The document says in the months that followed Mohamud made “multiple efforts” to contact another “unindicted associate” to arrange travel to Pakistan but had a faulty email address for that person.

Last June an FBI agent contacted Mohamud “under the guise of being affiliated with the first associate.”

Mohamud and the undercover agent agreed to meet in Portland on July 30. At that meeting, the undercover agent and Mohamud “discussed violent jihad,” according to the court document.

Mohamud told the agent he wanted to set off explosives at the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, an event that occurred on Friday.

The undercover agent reportedly cautioned Mohamud about the plan, saying there would be many children at the event.

Allegedly he replied that he was looking for “a huge mass that will … be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays.”

According to the affidavit he was not concerned about law enforcement because, “It’s in Oregon,” he said. “And Oregon, like, you know, nobody ever thinks about.”

The FBI statement said Mohamud recorded a video of himself with the undercover agents explaining his reasons for planning the bomb attack.

On Friday, an undercover agent and Mohamud drove to downtown Portland in a white van that carried six 55-gallon drums with detonation cords and plastic caps, but all of them were inert, the complaint states.

They got out of the van and walked to meet another undercover agent, who drove to Union Station, the Portland train station, where Mohamud was given a cell phone that he thought would blow up the van, according to the complaint.

Mohamud dialed the phone agents had given him, and was told the bomb did not detonate. The undercover agents suggested he get out of the car and try again to improve the signal, when he did, he was arrested, the complaint said.

Home-grown terrorism

In May, Faisal Shazhad, a naturalized citizen also from Pakistan, tried to set off a car bomb at a bustling street corner in New York City. U.S. authorities had no intelligence about Shahzad’s plot until the smoking car turned up in Manhattan.

Late last month, Pakistan-born Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Virginia was arrested and accused of casing Washington-area subway stations in what he thought was an al-Qaida plot to bomb and kill commuters. Similar to the Portland sting, the bombing plot was a ruse conducted over the past six months by federal officials.

Also in October, a Hawaii man was arrested and accused of making false statements to the FBI about his plans to attend terrorist training in Pakistan.

In August, a Virginia man was caught trying to leave the country to fight with an al-Qaida-affiliated group in Somalia.

Full story

———

Topical reports on this site

New Post-9/11 Terrorist Strategy (Sept. 22, 2010)

Video

Report warns of small-scale attacks by al Qaida (MSNBC, Sept. 25, 2010) – A Washington Post report says that the risk of small-scale attacks by al Qaida and its allies are on the rise. MSNBC’s Alex Witt talks with international terrorism consultant Evan Kolmann. (03:19)

Somali Terror Suspects Indicted (Aug. 7, 2010)

Video

U.S. indicts 14 suspected terrorists (MSNBC, Aug. 7, 2010) – MSNBC’s Alex Witt talks with Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress about the U.S. unveiling indictments against 14 suspected terrorists, 12 of them Minnesota Somalis. (03:37)

Taliban First Strike on U.S. Soil (May 8, 2010)

Video

Alleged Times Square bomber an unusual suspect (NBC Nightly News, May 5, 2010) – Faisel Shahzad, the Pakistan-born American citizen arrested in connection with an attempted car bombing in New York’s Times Square, comes from one of Pakistan’s most elite military families and has not been known to have expressed extremist, religious views. NBC’s Richard Engel reports. (00:32)

Times Square Taliban Link (May 7, 2010)

Image: Suspect Faisal Shahzad
Facebook photo of Faisal Shahzad

New York Bomb Suspect Arrested (May 3, 2010)

Image: Faisal Shahzad
Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of plotting a car bombing in New York’s Times Square. (Photo credit: U.S. Marshals Service / AP file)

Times Square Bomb Plot Suspects (May 2, 2010)

(Left) New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly speaks about car bomb in Times Square, beside surveillance video still of dark SUV loaded with bomb (circled in red) (© Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly speaks about car bomb in Times Square (left), beside surveillance video still of dark SUV loaded with bomb (right, circled in red). (Photo credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Bomb Scare in Times Square (May 1, 2010)

Slide presentation
Image: Times Square is void of pedestrians
Times Square targeted
Police defused a crudely made car bomb found in a SUV parked in New York’s Times Square.

Yemen-Somalia Terror Nexus (Jan. 12, 2010)

Image: Somali refugees in Yemen
Somali refugees gather in the village of Basateen near the Yemeni port city of Aden on May 17, 2009. Basateen is often called “small Somalia” because of the number of Somali refugees who live there. (Photo credit: Khaled Fazaa / AFP — Getty Images file)

Fears of ‘Homegrown Terrorism’ (Dec. 12, 2009)

Video
FBI interrogates American Muslims (MSNBC, Dec. 11, 2009) – Five American Muslims accused of using the Internet to organize a plot to attack U.S. military forces in Afghanistan are interrogated by the FBI. (02:10)

Afghan-American Admits Role in Terror Plot (Sept. 19, 2009)

Image: Najibullah Zazi
Afghanistan-born Najibullah Zazi arrives at the federal building in Denver on Sept. 17, 2009 for questioning by the FBI. (Photo credit: Marc Piscotty / Getty Images)

FBI Probing Somali Terror Link (March 12, 2009)

Image: Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center
Worshippers at the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s largest mosque. The mosque is suspected by the families of some missing Somali men of having a role in their loved ones’ disappearance. (Photo credit: Craig Lassig / AP)

Minnesota Somalis Jihad-Bound? (Jan. 26, 2009)

Image: Burhan Hassan
Burhan Hassan was one of many young Somali men who went missing from Minneapolis in 2008. His family suspects he was recruited by radical elements in Somalia. (Photo credit: The Associated Press)

———

FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — November 27, 2009

Bush-Cheney ‘Hell Bent’ on War

Image: Jeremy Greenstock
Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2003, arrives at the Iraq inquiry in London on Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. (Photo credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP)

One year ago today, I reported that Jeremy Greenstock, British ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2003, testified before an inquiry into the Iraq war that the Bush administration was “hell bent” on the 2003 military invasion of Iraq and actively undermined efforts by Britain to win international authorization for the war.

———

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Image: Afghan firefighters wash the road
Afghan firefighters wash the road at the site of a suicide attack outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008. A car bomber targeting an American convoy exploded outside the embassy as people entered the compound for a Thanksgiving Day race. (Photo credit: Shah Marai / AFP — Getty Images)

Two years ago today, on Nov. 27, 2008, I reported that a suicide car bomber targeting an American convoy exploded about 200 yards outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, killing at least four Afghan bystanders, while in Iraq, the country’s parliament approved a security pact with the United States that allowed American troops to stay in the country for three more years.

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4 Responses to “Portland Somali Car Bomb Sting”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Fears of ‘Homegrown Terrorism’ Says:

    [...] Portland Somali Car Bomb Sting (Nov. 27, 2010) [...]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Baltimore Bomb Plot ‘Jihad’ Says:

    [...] Portland Somali Car Bomb Sting (Nov. 27, 2010) [...]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Enforcing Immigration Law Says:

    [...] Portland Somali Car Bomb Sting (Nov. 27, 2010) [...]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Yemen-Somalia Terror Nexus Says:

    [...] Portland Somali Car Bomb Sting (Nov. 27, 2010) [...]

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