In Portland, 19-year-old college student Mohamed Osman Mohamud was arrested last night as he tried to detonate a car bomb in a crowd at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. As federal and local agents closed in on him, he shouted “Allahu Akbar!” This was the scene at Pioneer Courthouse Square:
Mohamud was born in Somalia but is an American citizen. Apparently a rather typical home-grown jihadist, he became a radical several years ago and tried to connect with Islamic terrorists in Pakistan. Reading between the lines of news accounts, it appears that his email communication with a real jihadist was intercepted by federal intelligence agents–that would be the Bush-era NSA program that was denounced by liberals, I assume–who responded in the guise of a fake jihadist. From then on, Mohamud’s efforts to commit mass murder were closely monitored. In the end, the feds supplied him with a fake detonator so that his car bomb would be harmless.
This is how the Portland Oregonian described the genesis of the case:
According to the FBI affidavit, the case began in August 2009 when Mohamud was in e-mail contact with an unindicted associate overseas who was believed to be involved in terrorist activities. In December 2009, while the unindicted associate was in a frontier province of Pakistan, Mohamud and the associate discussed the possibility of Mohamud traveling to Pakistan to participate in violent jihad.
The associate allegedly referred Mohamud to a second associate overseas and provided him with a name and e-mail address. In the months that followed, Mohamud made several unsuccessful attempts to contact the second associate.
Ultimately, an FBI undercover operative contacted Mohamud in a June 2010 e-mail under the guise of being an associate of the first unindicted associate.
The Associated Press account is here.
So far, not much information has come out about Mr. Mohamud. As a Somali immigrant, it is likely that he has a Minnesota connection. No doubt, more facts will emerge over the coming weeks. In the meantime, congratulations to the intelligence and law enforcement personnel who prevented hundreds or thousands of men, women and children who were celebrating the beginning of the Christmas season from being blown up.