The man who was arrested on Friday for seeking to detonate a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland is described in the local press as “a Corvallis teenager,” perhaps not the most illuminating description of the suspect. We also learn from the story that the suspect’s name is Mohamed Mohamud.
Mohamud is 19 years old. He is a native of Mogadishu, Somalia. He is a naturalized American citizen. He is a Muslim. When apprehended by law enforcement authorities he declared, “Allahu Akhbar.” The motivation for Mohamud’s act of attempted mass murder was “violent jihad.”
The facts of the case make out a motif, and questions come naturally to mind. Yet beyond the facts of the case a polite silence ensues.
What can we learn from the case of Mohamed Mohamud? Should we take note of the fact that al Qaeda has a new online publication targeting an audience of disaffected Muslims in the English speaking world? The name of the magazine is Inspire. According to Judith Miller and David Samuels writing in the Wall Street Journal, the magazine seeks to “inspir[e] young Americans to kill their neighbors.”
How did the native of Mogadishu come to be a naturalized American citizen? I can’t find an answer to this question in the long New York Times story on the case, or in the Oregonian backgrounder on Mohamud and his family, although we do learn from the Oregonian that Mohamud was his mother’s “golden child.” We also learn that Mohamud was known as one of “the three Mohameds” in a local group of friends who shared the first name and Islamic religious beliefs.
Where did he take in the message that motivated his actions? Is there anything to be done?
The Oregonian’s Steve Duin has posed another set of questions raised by the case. Duin’s questions have a local flavor and a focus on law enforcement. I think they are not the deepest questions that could be asked, but at least Duin is thinking beyond the facts of the instant case.
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