Sunday, November 28, 2010

Terror plot in Portland?

On Friday, police and federal agents arrested a man in Portland whom they accused of plotting a terrorist attack.  From a US Department of Justice press release:
PORTLAND, OR—Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia and resident of Corvallis, Ore., has been arrested on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb at an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony earlier this evening in Portland, Ore., the Justice Department announced.

According to a criminal complaint signed in the District of Oregon, Mohamud was arrested by the FBI and Portland Police Bureau at approximately 5:40 p.m. (PST) Nov. 26, 2010 after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van that was parked near the tree lighting ceremony in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. The arrest was the culmination of a long-term undercover operation, during which Mohamud had been monitored closely for months as his alleged bomb plot developed. The device was in fact inert; and the public was never in danger from the device.
Initially, when reports about the arrest hit the news, I didn't know what to think.  A terror attack right here in my home city

Hmm...  Apparently, an heroic save by the FBI...  Let's read a little further, shall we?
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, in August 2009, Mohamud was in e-mail contact with an unindicted associate (UA1) overseas who is believed to be involved in terrorist activities. In December 2009, while UA1 was located in the northwest frontier province of Pakistan, Mohamud and UA1 discussed the possibility of Mohamud traveling to Pakistan to engage in violent jihad. UAI allegedly referred Mohamud to a second unindicted associate (UA2) overseas and provided Mohamud with a name and email address to facilitate the process.
So, the kid actually went so far as to send email to an address in Pakistan which the FBI "believe[s] to be involved in terrorist activities." What do you suppose that means? What are the "terrorist activities" and how is UA1 "involved?" 

Read on:
In the months that followed, Mohamud allegedly made several unsuccessful attempts to contact UA2. Ultimately, an FBI undercover operative contacted Mohamud via e-mail in June 2010 under the guise of being an associate of UA1. Mohamud and the FBI undercover operative then agreed to meet in Portland in July 2010. At this meeting, Mohamud allegedly told the FBI undercover operative that he had written articles that were published in Jihad Recollections, an online magazine that advocated violent jihad. Mohamud also indicated that he wanted to become “operational.” Asked what he meant by “operational,” Mohamud stated that he wanted to put an “explosion” together, but needed help.
So, let's see... an angry American teenager (who happens to be Muslim) entertains fantasies about killing people and attracts the attention of the FBI.  Then, the FBI pretends to help the kid carry out his macabre fantasy so that they can throw the book at him.

The more I learn about the case, the more I'm inclined to view the entire FBI investigation with suspicion.

We'll see how this plays out as the facts come to light.  But it seems to me, at this moment, that the FBI spent a lot of time and money luring a misguided youth into a series of fateful mistakes.  I grant that a person expressing an interest in mass murder warrants careful observation.  But if the FBI had not been there to encourage the kid, who clearly had no real connections to any terrorist organization, is it possible he might have wised up, like so many other angry American boys?  (Ask yourself how many times you've heard rednecks expressing a desire to murder President Obama or Nancy Pelosi or "liberals.")

Expect the usual and inevitable anti-Muslim demagoguery and fear-mongering to kick into high gear in the wake of the arrest.   But, regardless of his intentions, Mohamed Osman Mohamud never hurt a soul.  In that sense, at least, he is less culpable than natural born Americans Kip Kinkel, Eric Rudolf, James Adkisson, or Scott Roeder.  In the long chronicle of American terrorists, he barely merits a footnote.  But he is Muslim and he is a naturalized citizen from Somalia.  That's two strikes against him in the eyes of the American public.

Update:   Just to clarify, I am suggesting that, although Mohamud certainly had motive, he had neither means nor opportunity to commit the crime of which he is accused until the FBI got involved.  That seems to be revealed in the US Justice Department press release, in which it states:

In the months that followed, Mohamud allegedly made several unsuccessful attempts to contact UA2. Ultimately, an FBI undercover operative contacted Mohamud via e-mail in June 2010 under the guise of being an associate of UA1.


Wylie said...

Thanks for the sanity Dade!

Anonymous said...

Now mayor Sam Adams is having to consider reinstating Portland in the Joint Terrorism Task Force we were the first city to withdraw from it five years ago over concerns of "losing community policing" and of course civil rights issues).
The FBI was able to "track" this guy for months and the plot was foiled without anyone being in danger. Wonder why they waited to arrest him but it seems advantageous to have waited if they wanted citizens to be afraid....

Anonymous said...

Since you took the time to post this, I'll take the time to respond...this muslim was not lured to anything he didn't want to be lured to...just like pedafiles who get nabbed in stings. You who choose to blame the police/FBI/etc. for all these loons' behavior are just as scary to me as this idiot jihadist. We do need to discern good vs. obviously portray authority as always evil. I for one, applaud the authorities who put this terrorist away. Go ahead, hit me with your best shots...

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the motivations for this kid's actions, or the results of the FBI's sting operation, the most important thing is TO CONTINUE TO BE VERY AFRAID! (and don't pay any attention to the deficit commission, or Wikileaks, or the foreclosure scandal...).

"Shusli" Baseler said...

To get to what IF I need to wade through what WAS. Like Sheik Mohamed Abdirahman Kariye having "explosives" in his luggage and being imprisoned for same...only to find out that those charges were false.

Or, like Brandon Mayfield being erroneously linked to 2004 Madrid bombings. Oops again!

Or, Randy Weaver being set up by the FBI and suffering the loss of family who were gunned down by same (if I recall correctly).

Or, my very own son - who decided to launch a "potato gun" on what he did not realize was airport property. The FBI swooped in, confiscated computers, tapped phone lines, and followed him and his friend who was also involved EVERYWHERE. I feel that this stress contributed to his friend's suicide, and I know that it caused my son to flee cross country. For. A. Potato. Gun.

What about COINTELPRO??

The FBI is known for stirring up trouble.

What might be the motives? Well, Portland is a liberal, tolerant bastion. "Ha ha Portland libs - now what do you think?" Perhaps a government wants to make an example of those of us who reject its intrusion into our lives, phone lines, and email accounts and reject the terror they wish to instill into us. Now maybe PDX will COMPLY with the full body xrays (no way - they have to touch my junk).

On the other hand, if this young man truly did this thing, then shame on him. Look at the backlash other Somalis and Muslims might have to endure as a result. Lock him up and throw away the key!

May we know the truth.

"Shusli" Baseler said...

And I feel truly angry that, if this is true, he would attempt to kill so many people, regardless of motives or who set him up.

Anonymous said...

this is cia at its best theres no outside terrorists in the united snakes only the inside terrorists the united snakes itself wakeup!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Glenn Greenwald very effectively analyzes this incident here:

Remember, the only information we have about this incident IS WHAT THE FBI IS GIVING US. And, given the penchant for the Federal government to lie to us if it makes them look good (cf. Jessica Lynch, Pat Tillman, etc.)there is enough reason to suspect their motives in this case.

Maybe it was because there were too many white Christian terrorists (such as the Turnidges)showing up in the news they had to make sure and catch a Muslim in the act.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is I am glad that all my children are raised and in one piece and their friends also. i would hate to think of what would have happened to two 10 year old boys brought home to me after deciding that the elderly gentlemen they were trying to shot with a bb gun that beautiful summer day was alright and that even though they had not made a very good choice that day they did not need to be tried as adults or fingered as terrorists for the rest of their lives.
For some reason when things like this happen I don't ever feel afraid only very very sad.

Wylie said...

Thanks for the sanity Dade!