At first blush, the story out of Oregon over the long holiday weekend seemed ominous. A "radicalized" Somali-born teenager, replete with menacing name "Mohamed Mohamud" and appearance, tries to detonate a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland.
Upon his arrest, a "mere 20 minutes before the attack," he yells the usual cliche "Allahu Akbar!" and promises death, a "huge mass that will . . . be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays. . . . I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured."
Scary, huh? Until you start reading the details of the 18 month investigation into this dude.
Later in June, aware of Mr. Mohamud’s frustrated attempts to receive training as a jihadist overseas, an undercover agent first made contact with him, posing as an associate of the man in Pakistan. On the morning of July 30, the F.B.I. first met with Mr. Mohamud in person to initiate the sting operation.Er, so the real jihadists found him more pathetic than anything and rejected his attempts to become "operational," only to have the FBI step in and initiate an 18 month attempt to help what appears to be a dopey teenager go "operational"? Actually going so far as to build the bomb itself for him?
The planning for the attack evolved from there, with Mr. Mohamud taking an aggressive role, insisting that he wanted to cause many deaths and selecting the Christmas target, according to federal agents.
Defense lawyers in such cases involving sting operations often accuse the F.B.I. of entrapment. Anticipating such claims, undercover agents in Mr. Mohamud’s case offered him several nonfatal ways to serve his cause, including mere prayer. But he told the agents he wanted to be “operational,” and perhaps execute a car bombing.
He referred to the Sept. 11 attacks, and how people were forced to jump from the burning World Trade Center towers, as “awesome.” Federal agents said Mr. Mohamud thought Portland would be a good target because Americans “don’t see it as a place where anything will happen.”
“It’s in Oregon; and Oregon, like, you know, nobody ever thinks about it.”
Like, fer sure. Awesome.
Again, it's too early to tell how "real" this is or was, but the extent to which the FBI seems to have gone to lure, entice (entrap?) this kid into following through with his twisted fantasies, is troubling to say the least.
More importantly, make sure to follow this case. As usual, the arrests of these "suspected terrorists" always generate world-wide headlines, only to have the cases disappear once the long, legal processes drag on.