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Sunday, November 28, 2010

FBI Thwarts Somali-Born Teen's Car Bombing, SCORE ONE FOR THE F.B.I.

NBC, and news services..
Feds supplied dud in sting at downtown Portland, Ore., Christmas tree lighting ceremony..
Police and the FBI have thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up a van filled with explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony after arresting 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud in Portland, Oregon. Dave Browde reports..
PORTLAND, Ore. — A law enforcement official says federal agents began investigating the suspect in the Christmas tree bombing plot in Portland, Ore., after receiving a tip from someone who was concerned about the teenager.
The official told The Associated Press that Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was acting on his own — without any instruction from a foreign terrorist organization.
The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The 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.
Mohamud 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 Akhkbar" 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.
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.

"At the same time, I want to reassure the people of this community that, at every turn, we denied him the ability to actually carry out the attack.
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.
Mohamud is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has been living in Corvallis. NBC News reported that he is a college student.
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.
Inert explosives
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.
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.