Somali-born teen plotted car-bombing in Oregon (Our Perspective)
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE PEACE Thru JUSTICE FOUNDATION
DHUL Hijjah 1431 A.H. (Nov. 27, 2010)
Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):
The latest scare dominating America's media mainstream is of a 19 year old naturalized citizen, from Somalia, who allegedly desired to do catastrophic damage to a community in Portland, Oregon. If we accept the reports that have already been broadcast on this unfortunate tragedy, on face value, it raises many concerns…or it should.
Let me state clearly and forcefully, up front, that if this young man indeed desired to do what he's been accused of, I'm glad that he's been taken off the street, and he should be punished.
The punishment, however, should fit the crime; and a life sentence - for what he merely wanted to do (with FBI assistance) - would be brutally excessive to say the least!
With that said, here are my concerns.
1. Does anyone believe that the decision to arrest this disturbed young man at this time - in what most reports are saying was a months long investigation – was by mere coincidence? (If so, how convenient for the TSA and its supporters.)
2. Again the question arises, in yet another Muslim/terrorism related case, of how far did the FBI go in building their case around this young man. Were one or more provocateurs involved?
3. Why must the government always allow plots to continue to the extent that it allows them to bring multiple charges which, when coupled with the "terrorism enhancements" on the day of sentencing, allows for draconian sentences that many (if not most) convicted murderers in America don't even receive. ("The bomb was an elaborate fake supplied by the agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.")
4. I agree wholeheartedly agree with Somali Foreign Minister Omar. This alleged terrorism attempt is not representative of the Somali people – nor is it representative of Islam and/or the Muslim personality. If the reports are accurate, something very specific happened in this young man's life that caused him to be this way. What was it?
In every one of these cases there are one or more common threads that binds them together: (a) anger/rage – in response to U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world; (b) intellectual and spiritual immaturity; (c) emotional stupidity; (d) mental imbalance; (e) the manipulation of financial need.
I do hope that our non-Muslim relatives and friends will bear this in mind with each sensational case that briefly dominates the airwaves and headlines; and with each malicious anti-Muslim and anti-Islam propaganda assault that follows.
I also hope that we, Muslims in America (esp. leaders and organizations), will do a better job of factoring this reality into our individual and collective response each time we feel ourselves to be on the never-ending defensive.
In the struggle for peace thru justice,
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
Feds: Somali-born teen plotted car-bombing in Ore.
By WILLIAM McCALL
PORTLAND, Ore. – Federal agents in a sting operation arrested a Somali-born teenager just as he tried blowing up a van he believed was loaded with explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, authorities said. The bomb was an elaborate fake supplied by the agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested at 5:40 p.m. Friday just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would set off the blast but instead brought federal agents and police swooping down on him.
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 threat was very real," said Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. "Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale."
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."
Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Corvallis, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. A court appearance was set for Monday. Few details were available about him late Friday.
Authorities allowed the plot to proceed in order to build up enough evidence to charge the suspect with attempt.
Officials didn't say if the suspect had any ties to other Americans recently accused of trying to carry out attacks on U.S. soil, including alleged efforts in May by a Pakistan-born man to set off a car bomb near Times Square or another Pakistan-born Virginia resident accused last month in a bomb plot to kill commuters.
U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton released federal court documents to The Associated Press and the Oregonian newspaper that show the sting operation began in June after an undercover agent learned that Mohamud had been in regular e-mail contact with an "unindicted associate" in Pakistan's northwest, a frontier region where al-Qaida and Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents are strong. The two used coded language in which the FBI believes Mohamud discussed traveling to Pakistan to prepare for "violent jihad," the documents said.
In June an FBI agent contacted Mohamud "under the guise of being affiliated with" the suspected terrorist. But the documents did not say how federal officials first became aware of Mohamud. An undercover agent met with him a month later in Portland, where they "discussed violent jihad," according to the court documents.
As a trial run, Mohamud and agents detonated a bomb in Oregon's back-country earlier this month.
"This defendant's chilling determination is a stark reminder that there are people — even here in Oregon — who are determined to kill Americans," Holton said.
Friday, an 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 left the van near the downtown ceremony site and went to a train station where Mohamud was given a cell phone that he thought would blow up the vehicle, according to the complaint. There was no detonation when he dialed, and when he tried again federal agents and police made their move.
Omar Jamal, first secretary to the Somali mission to the United Nations, condemned the plot and urged Somalis to cooperate with police and the FBI. "Talk to them and tell them what you know so we can all be safe," Jamal said.
Somalia Foreign Minister Mohamed Abullahi Omaar said his government is "ready and willing" to offer the U.S. any assistance it may need to prevent similar attempts. He said the attempt in Portland was a tragedy for Mohamud's family and the "people he tried to harm."
"Mohamud's attempt is neither representative nor an example of Somalis. Somalis are peace loving people," said Omaar, whose government is holed up in a few blocks of the capital, Mogadishu, while much of the country's southern and central regions are ruled by Islamist insurgents.
Tens of thousands of Somalis have resettled in the United States since their country plunged into lawlessness in 1991.
U.S. authorities have been struggling against a recent spate of terror plans by U.S. citizens or residents. In the Times Square plot, Faisal Shazhad allegedly tried to set off a car bomb at a bustling street corner. U.S. authorities had no intelligence about Shahzad's plot until the smoking car turned up in Manhattan.
Late last month, 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.
And a year ago in another federal sting, 19-year-old Jordanian Hosam Smadi was arrested on charges he intended to bomb a downtown Dallas skyscraper. Federal officials said he placed what he believed was a car bomb outside the building but was instead a decoy device given him by an undercover FBI agent.
Associated Press writer Malkhadir M. Muhumed contributed to this report from Nairobi, Kenya
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