Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

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Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby NecklaceOfShadow » Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:48 pm UTC

The Christian Science Monitor wrote:In an undercover sting operation at a Christmas tree lighting in Portland, Oregon, Mohamed Osman Mohamud was arrested dialing a cell phone that he thought would set off the blast.Portland, Oregon

Undercover agents in a sting operation stopped a Somali-born teenager from blowing up a van full of explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Oregon, federal authorities said. The bomb was a dud 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 and is scheduled for a court appearance 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 backcounry 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.

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.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby The Reaper » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:22 pm UTC

I wonder if those men know how much they disgrace their family names? >:\

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Gellert1984 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:24 pm UTC

Seem to be a lot of FBI agents selling fake bombs to people in the US. Maybe I'm just really paranoid but I can't help but feel catching people like this is awfully easy.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Jahoclave » Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:02 pm UTC

Gellert1984 wrote:Seem to be a lot of FBI agents selling fake bombs to people in the US. Maybe I'm just really paranoid but I can't help but feel catching people like this is awfully easy.

Seems to me that the FBI is really just waiting to set us up the bomb.

Of course, this could just be the FBI's new method of fundraising. Sell terrorists bomb parts. Arrest terrorist. Sell next terrorist same bomb parts. Profit.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Korrente » Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:59 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Of course, this could just be the FBI's new method of fundraising. Sell terrorists bomb parts. Arrest terrorist. Sell next terrorist same bomb parts. Profit.



Yeah, they're like Wal-Mart. Came in and beat out all the little mom-and-pop bomb part stores. Doesn't matter that my store was always honest and we always had the highest quality parts, everyone just wants to save a buck and now I'm out of a job.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby achan1058 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:25 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:I wonder if those men know how much they disgrace their family names? >:\
Or their nation and religion...... If the Muslims clergy wants to redeem themselves (and create propaganda values), they should make a very high profile condemnation and excommunicate them, banning them from calling themselves Muslim. Too bad there isn't a pope like figure like the Roman Catholic which can do such a thing.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Aetius » Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:47 am UTC

Sources say the bomb was filled with used pinball machine parts.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Triangle_Man » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:30 am UTC

Aetius wrote:Sources say the bomb was filled with used pinball machine parts.


Sounds like the Bomber...

*puts on sunglasses*

...Didn't know that it was just a game.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Hooch » Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:19 am UTC

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAH

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby SummerGlauFan » Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:38 am UTC

Triangle_Man wrote:
Aetius wrote:Sources say the bomb was filled with used pinball machine parts.


Sounds like the Bomber...

*puts on sunglasses*

...Didn't know that it was just a game.


Are you saying he got played?
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Tirian » Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:22 am UTC

Gellert1984 wrote:Seem to be a lot of FBI agents selling fake bombs to people in the US. Maybe I'm just really paranoid but I can't help but feel catching people like this is awfully easy.


Yeah. I'm not saying that this guy isn't a piece of dirt who deserves to be charged with everything that he thought was going to happen when he activated his detonator. Still, if the FBI set up stings for every shithead who dreamed of assassinating President Obama then we'd need to build more jails AND we'd conclude that the greatest threat to America was right-wing radio instead of jihad.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Jahoclave » Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:25 am UTC

Tirian wrote:
Gellert1984 wrote:Seem to be a lot of FBI agents selling fake bombs to people in the US. Maybe I'm just really paranoid but I can't help but feel catching people like this is awfully easy.


Yeah. I'm not saying that this guy isn't a piece of dirt who deserves to be charged with everything that he thought was going to happen when he activated his detonator. Still, if the FBI set up stings for every shithead who dreamed of assassinating President Obama then we'd need to build more jails AND we'd conclude that the greatest threat to America was right-wing radio instead of jihad.

Wait, you mean we haven't concluded that already? I thought it was just because we couldn't throw Limbaugh and Beck in jail for being massive shitheads.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:33 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
Tirian wrote:
Gellert1984 wrote:Seem to be a lot of FBI agents selling fake bombs to people in the US. Maybe I'm just really paranoid but I can't help but feel catching people like this is awfully easy.


Yeah. I'm not saying that this guy isn't a piece of dirt who deserves to be charged with everything that he thought was going to happen when he activated his detonator. Still, if the FBI set up stings for every shithead who dreamed of assassinating President Obama then we'd need to build more jails AND we'd conclude that the greatest threat to America was right-wing radio instead of jihad.

Wait, you mean we haven't concluded that already? I thought it was just because we couldn't throw Limbaugh and Beck in jail for being massive shitheads.

I hope you recognize the very relevant difference between being a shithead on the radio and being a shithead who attempts to purchase and detonate bombs.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Tirian » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:03 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I hope you recognize the very relevant difference between being a shithead on the radio and being a shithead who attempts to purchase and detonate bombs.


I'll get on that just as soon as the aforementioned shitheads recognize the very relevant difference between an Islamic cultural center and an Al Qaeda training camp. I expect that won't take long, as not only is it the same freedoms but it's in the benefit of people who are inciting for peace and understanding.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Jahoclave » Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:03 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:
Tirian wrote:
Gellert1984 wrote:Seem to be a lot of FBI agents selling fake bombs to people in the US. Maybe I'm just really paranoid but I can't help but feel catching people like this is awfully easy.


Yeah. I'm not saying that this guy isn't a piece of dirt who deserves to be charged with everything that he thought was going to happen when he activated his detonator. Still, if the FBI set up stings for every shithead who dreamed of assassinating President Obama then we'd need to build more jails AND we'd conclude that the greatest threat to America was right-wing radio instead of jihad.

Wait, you mean we haven't concluded that already? I thought it was just because we couldn't throw Limbaugh and Beck in jail for being massive shitheads.

I hope you recognize the very relevant difference between being a shithead on the radio and being a shithead who attempts to purchase and detonate bombs.

Plus, I make on average one serious comment for every twenty five sarcastic jokes on this forum. Still, in terms of destroying the country, he failed to blow up Portland. People still take Limbaugh and Beck seriously.

Yet, this adds more evidence to my theory that Portland makes you want to kill people. I have a hypothesis that it's because of the hipsters.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:48 pm UTC

Because it's only terrorism if it's done by Muslims.*

That's another minus one for my faith in humanity, I think.

*I'm aware there is a difference between planning to kill as many as possible with a bomb and attempting to burn down a building. Still very much a pot calling the kettle black kind of situation, though.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby achan1058 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:45 am UTC

PhoenixEnigma wrote:That's another minus one for my faith in humanity, I think.
I think that's the problem itself, faith. If people do not believe, and don't have things to die for, we wouldn't have terrorist acts.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby JonScholar » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:28 am UTC

Why does this all seem so eerily familiar? I'm from Portland by the way, and I find the headlines surrounding this issue hilarious. There was no bomb, and the "plot" was entirely staged by the FBI as part of a sting operation. However, despite the fact that the FBI entirely constructed this scenario, they apparently also "foiled" it.

Gellert1984 wrote:Seem to be a lot of FBI agents selling fake bombs to people in the US.


Where does it say that they sold the bomb? Actually, what's happened in the past is the exact opposite. Namely, agents of the FBI (or it's associates) go into poor Muslim communities and offer them money to participate in fake terrorist plots.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:41 am UTC

Maybe you should read the posted article. While I'd be willing to believe under some circumstances maybe possibly that desperate FBI sting operatives conducted themselves as reported in the Slate article you posted, I doubt that's the norm, and in anycase, is irrelevant in this instance, wherein;
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."


But sure, we can all go tinfoil hat nuts here and blame the people who aren't interested in detonating bombs in public spaces, I hear ya man.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby JonScholar » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:11 am UTC

I didn't comment on the suspect's innocence or guilt. Maybe the kid really is a evil muslim terrorist supervillian. That has nothing to do with what I was saying. The point is that what the FBI did here, and what it has been doing, is fabricating terror plots. It could very well be that none of this would have happened without the FBI's intervention. This is why legal protections against entrapment exist. It's not a crime to think about about committing a crime. Not yet anyways. With the Newburgh 4, there was clear entrapment. Here, it remains to be seen. Frankly, the only narrative being presented is the FBI's, which is hardly impartial.

And while I'm glad that you "doubt" that such misconduct is the norm, you should recognize that such statements say more about your personal biases than they say about the reality of the FBI's practices.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Brooklynxman » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:27 am UTC

JonScholar wrote:I didn't comment on the suspect's innocence or guilt. Maybe the kid really is a evil muslim terrorist supervillian. That has nothing to do with what I was saying. The point is that what the FBI did here, and what it has been doing, is fabricating terror plots. It could very well be that none of this would have happened without the FBI's intervention. This is why legal protections against entrapment exist. It's not a crime to think about about committing a crime. Not yet anyways. With the Newburgh 4, there was clear entrapment. Here, it remains to be seen. Frankly, the only narrative being presented is the FBI's, which is hardly impartial.

And while I'm glad that you "doubt" that such misconduct is the norm, you should recognize that such statements say more about your personal biases than they say about the reality of the FBI's practices.


We do know that he was in contact with someone talking about doing something, and then the FBI stepped in. We can never be sure exactly how large an attack he could have pulled off on his own, but we do know he wanted to do one, and the type of attack he wanted to pull off (car bomb at a public, family friendly event) isn't extraordinarily difficult to pull off, even if he wouldn't have been able to pull off an attack of the magnitude portrayed here.

Edit
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/art ... 2a92e49438
Article
Spoiler:
Ore. fire raises Muslims' fears of attack backlash

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Someone set fire to an Islamic center on Sunday, two days after a man who worshipped there was accused of trying to blow up a van full of explosives during Portland's Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Other Muslims fear it could be the first volley of misplaced retribution.
The charges against Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-born 19-year-old who was caught in a federal sting operation, are testing tolerance in a state that has been largely accepting of Muslims. Muslims who know the suspect say they are shocked by the allegations against him and that he had given them no hint of falling into radicalism.
The fire at the Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center in Corvallis was reported at 2:15 a.m., and evidence at the scene led authorities to believe it was set intentionally, said Carla Pusateri, a fire prevention officer for the Corvallis Fire Department.
Authorities don't know who started the blaze or why, but they believe the center was targeted because Mohamud occasionally worshipped there.
Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said there's no conclusive link to the bombing in Portland or specific evidence that it's a hate crime, other than the timing.
U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton vowed to prosecute the case aggressively.
"The fact is that violent extremists come from all religions and no religion at all. For one person to blame a group, if that's what happened here, is uniquely anti-American and will be pursued with the full force of the Justice Department," he said.
Mohamud was being held on charges of plotting to carry out a terror attack Friday on a crowd of thousands at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. His attorney, Stephen R. Sady, didn't return a telephone message left Sunday by The Associated Press.
The suspect's mother, Maryan Hassan, declined to answer any questions when contacted by phone late Sunday by The Associated Press, referring all questions to Sady. His father also refused to comment.
On Friday, he parked what he thought was a bomb-laden van near the ceremony and then went to a nearby train station, where he dialed a cell phone that he believed would detonate the vehicle, federal authorities said. Instead, federal authorities moved in and arrested him. No one was hurt.
There were also no injuries in Sunday's fire, which burned 80 percent of the center's office but did not spread to worship areas or any other rooms, said Yosof Wanly, the center's imam.
After daybreak, members gathered at the center, where a broken window had been boarded up.
"I've prayed for my family and friends, because obviously if someone was deliberate enough to do this, what's to stop them from coming to our homes and our schools?" said Mohamed Alyagouri, a 31-year-old father of two who worships at the center. "I'm afraid for my children getting harassed from their teachers, maybe from their friends."
Wanly said he was thinking about temporarily relocating his family because of the possibility of hate crimes.
"We know how it is, we know some people due to ignorance are going to perceive of these things and hold most Muslims accountable," Wanly said. But he said Corvallis, a college town about 75 miles southwest of Portland, has long been accepting of Muslims.
"The common scene here is to be very friendly, accepting various cultures and religions," Wanly said. "The Islamic center has been here for 40 years, it's more American than most Americans with regards to age."
In Portland, residents are alarmed by the terror plot, but Mayor Sam Adams said they are "not going to let this change our values of being an open and embracing city." He said that he beefed up patrols around mosques "and other facilities that might be vulnerable to knuckle-headed retribution" after hearing of the bomb plot.
The FBI was working closely with leadership at the Corvallis center as agents investigated the fire, Balizan said. The bureau has established a telephone tip line and a $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest.
Wanly said Mohamud moved to the U.S. from Somalia as a young boy. Mohamud graduated from high school in the Portland suburb of Beaverton. He attended Oregon State University but dropped out on Oct. 6.
Isgow Mohamed, director of the Northwest Somali Community Organization, said he has known Mohamud's father, Osman Barre, since 1996.
"Both parents, mother and father, they are civilized people," Mohamed said. "They don't believe in killing even a small animal. So what do you think two civilized people, what their product will be?"
Barre has not spoken with his son since his arrest on Friday, Mohamed said.
Wanly described Mohamud as a normal student who went to athletic events, drank an occasional beer and was into rap music and culture. He described Mohamud as religious, saying he attended prayers in Corvallis once or twice a month over a year and a half.
Wanly, 24, said that in about 15 conversations he had with Mohamud, the teen rarely discussed religion. He said that may have been because Mohamud knew his extremist views wouldn't be tolerated, and suggested that Mohamud was influenced by radical teachings he read on the Internet.
"If a person has a type of agenda, he can find anything he wants on the Internet and block out everything else," Wanly said.
In the days leading up to his arrest, Mohamud's friends thought he appeared on edge, Wanly said.
"He seemed to be in a state of confusion," Wanly said. "He would say things that weren't true. He'd say 'I'm going to go get married,' for example. He wasn't going to go get married."
Mohamud is among tens of thousands of Somalis who have resettled in the United States since their country plunged into lawlessness in 1991. The U.N.-backed government controls only a few blocks of Mogadishu, the capital, while large parts of Somalia are controlled by the insurgent group Al-Shabab, which vows allegiance to al-Qaida.
Omar Jamal, first secretary for the Somali mission to the United Nations in New York City, told The Associated Press his office has received "thousands of calls" from Somalis in the United States who are concerned about tactics used by federal agents in the sting operation against Mohamud.
Jamal said there is concern in the Somali community that Mohamud was "lured into an illegal act."
An FBI affidavit said it was Mohamud who picked the target of the bomb plot, that he was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could die, and that he could back out.
Officials said Mohamud had no formal ties to foreign terror groups, although he had reached out to suspected terrorists in Pakistan.
After the FBI got a tip about Mohamud, an agent e-mailed him over the summer, pretending to be affiliated with an "unindicted associate" whom Mohamud had tried to contact.
Agents had some face-to-face meetings with Mohamud. On Nov. 4, in the backcountry along Oregon's coast, they convinced him that he was testing an explosive device — although the explosion was controlled by agents.
On Friday, an agent and Mohamud drove into downtown Portland in a white van that carried six 55-gallon drums with detonation cords and plastic caps, but all of them were inert.
Duara reported from Portland. Associated Press writers William McCall and Tim Fought also contributed to this report.


My reaction
Spoiler:
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST PEOPLE! Why why why would you do something like that? I don't firebomb the nearest church when Fred Phelps gets on his megaphone to scream at funerals about gays. I know there are some bigoted people out there BUT IS YOUR FUCKING GOAL TO MAKE MORE FUCKING TERRORISTS! SERIOUSLY THAT IS ALL YOU WILL ACCOMPLISH BY THIS YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE BRAIN OF AN INBRED RAT TO THINK EVERYONE WHO EVER ASSOCIATED WITH SOMEONE WHO DID SOMETHING BAD SUPPORTS THE DECISION!

Yes, I know they haven't proven it was actually connected, but if it isn't, the timing is impeccable.
We figure out what all this means, then do something large and violent

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Zamfir » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:58 am UTC

Such actions make my engineer-heart cry. I mean, it's not that hard to fire-bomb a busy place with some decent number of casualties.

I'd say the real lesson of such failed attempts is that many people are badly educated.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:34 pm UTC

JonScholar wrote: That has nothing to do with what I was saying.

No, but your excessive use of quotations around your analysis of the topic certainly reveals your opinion of the FBI's involvement in stopping plots like this.

JonScholar wrote:And while I'm glad that you "doubt" that such misconduct is the norm, you should recognize that such statements say more about your personal biases than they say about the reality of the FBI's practices.

Yes, because of the two of us, I'm the one whose personal biases need pointing out.
JonScholar wrote:Frankly, the only narrative being presented is the FBI's, which is hardly impartial.

Yes, I think this is actually a plot by the FBI to entrap all dark skinned immigrants. Hey, at least this time, it's a government agency hatching plots without drugs!
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Oregonaut » Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:39 pm UTC

I would like to apologize to all Muslims on behalf of the idiotic sections of my state that really, really hate "other" people.

However, I would also like to ask Washington DC what the fuck they were thinking when they looked at Oregon and said: "Hmm, there is no real muslim population there for them to make a community out of, and there are some sections of Oregon that are REALLY conservative. I know! Let's drop several thousand refugees there and then forget about them!" GO TEAM!
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby JonScholar » Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:58 pm UTC

Well it looks like I'm going to have to start reading Glenn Greenwald from now on. Since he's the only media commentator I can find that shares my view on this.

Spoiler:
The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot
BY GLENN GREENWALD

The FBI is obviously quite pleased with itself over its arrest of a 19-year-old Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who -- with months of encouragement, support and money from the FBI's own undercover agents -- allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon. Media accounts are almost uniformly trumpeting this event exactly as the FBI describes it. Loyalists of both parties are doing the same, with Democratic Party commentators proclaiming that this proves how great and effective Democrats are at stopping The Evil Terrorists, while right-wing polemicists point to this arrest as yet more proof that those menacing Muslims sure are violent and dangerous.

What's missing from all of these celebrations is an iota of questioning or skepticism. All of the information about this episode -- all of it -- comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud. As shocking and upsetting as this may be to some, FBI claims are sometimes one-sided, unreliable and even untrue, especially when such claims -- as here -- are uncorroborated and unexamined. That's why we have what we call "trials" before assuming guilt or even before believing that we know what happened: because the government doesn't always tell the complete truth, because they often skew reality, because things often look much different once the accused is permitted to present his own facts and subject the government's claims to scrutiny. The FBI affidavit -- as well as whatever its agents are whispering into the ears of reporters -- contains only those facts the FBI chose to include, but omits the ones it chose to exclude. And even the "facts" that are included are merely assertions at this point and thus may not be facts at all.

It may very well be that the FBI successfully and within legal limits arrested a dangerous criminal intent on carrying out a serious Terrorist plot that would have killed many innocent people, in which case they deserve praise. Court-approved surveillance and use of undercover agents to infiltrate terrorist plots are legitimate tactics when used in accordance with the law.

But it may also just as easily be the case that the FBI -- as they've done many times in the past -- found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a "Terrorist plot" which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI's own concoction. Having stopped a plot which it itself manufactured, the FBI then publicly touts -- and an uncritical media amplifies -- its "success" to the world, thus proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government's vast surveillance powers -- current and future new ones -- are necessary.

There are numerous claims here that merit further scrutiny and questioning. First, the FBI was monitoring the email communications of this American citizen on U.S. soil for months (at least) with what appears to be the flimsiest basis: namely, that he was in email communication with someone in Northwest Pakistan, "an area known to harbor terrorists" (para. 5 of the FBI Affidavit). Is that enough to obtain court approval to eavesdrop on someone's calls and emails? I'm glad the FBI is only eavesdropping with court approval, if that's true, but certainly more should be required for judicial authorization than that. Communicating with someone in Northwest Pakistan is hardly reasonable grounds for suspicion.

Second, in order not to be found to have entrapped someone into committing a crime, law enforcement agents want to be able to prove that, in the 1992 words of the Supreme Court, the accused was "was independently predisposed to commit the crime for which he was arrested." To prove that, undercover agents are often careful to stress that the accused has multiple choices, and they then induce him into choosing with his own volition to commit the crime. In this case, that was achieved by the undercover FBI agent's allegedly advising Mohamud that there were at least five ways he could serve the cause of Islam (including by praying, studying engineering, raising funds to send overseas, or becoming "operational"), and Mohamud replied he wanted to "be operational" by using exploding a bomb (para. 35-37).

But strangely, while all other conversations with Mohamud which the FBI summarizes were (according to the affidavit) recorded by numerous recording devices, this conversation -- the crucial one for negating Mohamud's entrapment defense -- was not. That's because, according to the FBI, the undercover agent "was equipped with audio equipment to record the meeting. However, due to technical problems, the meeting was not recorded" (para. 37).

Thus, we have only the FBI's word, and only its version, for what was said during this crucial -- potentially dispositive -- conversation. Also strangely: the original New York Times article on this story described this conversation at some length and reported the fact that "that meeting was not recorded due to a technical difficulty," but the final version omitted that, instead simply repeating the FBI's story as though it were fact: "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."

Third, there are ample facts that call into question whether Mohamud's actions were driven by the FBI's manipulation and pressure rather than his own predisposition to commit a crime. In June, he attempted to fly to Alaska in order to work on a fishing job he obtained through a friend, but he was on the Government's no-fly list. That caused the FBI to question him at the airport and then bar him from flying to Alaska, and thus prevented him from earning income with this job (para. 25). Having prevented him from working, the money the FBI then pumped him with -- including almost $3,000 in cash for him to rent his own apartment (para. 61) -- surely helped make him receptive to their suggestions and influence. And every other step taken to perpetrate this plot -- from planning its placement to assembling the materials to constructing the bomb -- was all done at the FBI's behest and with its indispensable support and direction.

It's impossible to conceive of Mohamud having achieved anything on his own. Before being ensnared by the FBI, the only tangible action he had taken was to write three articles on "fitness and jihad" for the online magazine Jihad Recollections. At least based on what is known, he had no history of violence, no apparent criminal record, had never been to a training camp in Afghanistan, Pakistan or anywhere else, and -- before meeting the FBI -- had never taken a single step toward harming anyone. Does that sound like some menacing sleeper Terrorist to you?

Finally, there is, as usual, no discussion whatsoever in media accounts of motive. There are several statements attributed to Mohamud by the Affidavit that should be repellent to any decent person, including complete apathy -- even delight -- at the prospect that this bomb would kill innocent people, including children. What would drive a 19-year-old American citizen -- living in the U.S. since the age of 3 -- to that level of sociopathic indifference? He explained it himself in several passages quoted by the FBI, and -- if it weren't for the virtual media blackout of this issue -- this line of reasoning would be extremely familiar to Americans by now (para. 45):

Undercover FBI Agent: You know there's gonna be a lot of children there?

Mohamud: Yeah, I know, that's what I'm looking for.

Undercover FBI Agent: For kids?

Mohamud: No, just for, in general a huge mass that will, like for them you know to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays. And then for later to be saying, this was them for you to refrain from killing our children, women . . . . so when they hear all these families were killed in such a city, they'll say you know what your actions, you know they will stop, you know. And it's not fair that they should do that to people and not feeling it.

And here's what he allegedly said in a video he made shortly before he thought he would be detonating the bomb (para. 80):

Image
Image

We hear the same exact thing over and over and over from accused Terrorists -- that they are attempting to carry out plots in retaliation for past and ongoing American violence against Muslim civilians and to deter such future acts. Here we find one of the great mysteries in American political culture: that the U.S. Government dispatches its military all over the world -- invading, occupying, and bombing multiple Muslim countries -- torturing them, imprisoning them without charges, shooting them up at checkpoints, sending remote-controlled drones to explode their homes, imposing sanctions that starve hundreds of thousands of children to death -- and Americans are then baffled when some Muslims -- an amazingly small percentage -- harbor anger and vengeance toward them and want to return the violence. And here we also find the greatest myth in American political discourse: that engaging in all of that military aggression somehow constitutes Staying Safe and combating Terrorism -- rather than doing more than any single other cause to provoke, sustain and fuel Terrorism.


UPDATE: A very similar thing happened last month when the FBI announced that it had arrested someone who was planning to bomb the DC Metro system when, in reality, "the only plotting he did was in response to instructions from federal agents he thought were accomplices." That concocted FBI plot then led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers' bags.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, the mosque sometimes attended by Mohamud was victimized today by arson. So the FBI did not stop any actual Terrorist plots, but they may have helped inspire one.


My emphasis, not Glenn's

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Hitaro0 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:05 pm UTC

Aetius wrote:Sources say the bomb was filled with used pinball machine parts.

He probably flipped when he heard that.


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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby achan1058 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:18 pm UTC

@JonScholar: If what you said is true, he should have bombed a military base and not civilians.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Telchar » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:36 pm UTC

Oregonaut wrote:However, I would also like to ask Washington DC what the fuck they were thinking when they looked at Oregon and said: "Hmm, there is no real muslim population there for them to make a community out of, and there are some sections of Oregon that are REALLY conservative. I know! Let's drop several thousand refugees there and then forget about them!" GO TEAM!


Right, but Portland isn't one of those really conservative parts. Gold Beach, DiSston, Redmond, or Bend are probably much worse.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Oregonaut » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:44 pm UTC

There are some sections of Portland that are pretty bad as far as ultra-conservative goes. But yeah, Portland is usually very tolerant of stupid. That's why the firebombing happened out in Corvallis, which is a much more conservative area, for a college town.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby PhatPhungus » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:13 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:@JonScholar: If what you said is true, he should have bombed a military base and not civilians.


If he were acting logically, yes. It's fairly clear he wasn't.

I find the possibility of entrapment here disturbing, and I think this case should be closely examined. Government intelligence organizations don't exactly have a clean record.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby SummerGlauFan » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:56 pm UTC

PhatPhungus wrote:
achan1058 wrote:@JonScholar: If what you said is true, he should have bombed a military base and not civilians.


If he were acting logically, yes. It's fairly clear he wasn't.

I find the possibility of entrapment here disturbing, and I think this case should be closely examined. Government intelligence organizations don't exactly have a clean record.


It's not entrapment. The guy was looking into making a bomb already, and the FBI stepped in. With multiple chances for the guy to bail out before the endgame.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby PhatPhungus » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:15 pm UTC

Wikipedia wrote: 1. The idea for committing the crime came from the government agents and not from the person accused of the crime.
2. Government agents then persuaded or talked the person into committing the crime. Simply giving him the opportunity to commit the crime is not the same as persuading him to commit the crime.
3. The person was not ready and willing to commit the crime before the government agents spoke with him.


Wikipedia wrote:The entrapment defense in the United States has evolved mainly through case law. Two competing tests exist for determining whether entrapment has taken place, known as the "subjective" and "objective" tests. The "subjective" test looks at the defendant's state of mind; entrapment can be claimed if the defendant had no "predisposition" to commit the crime. The "objective" test looks instead at the government's conduct; entrapment occurs when the actions of government officers would have caused a normally law-abiding person to commit a crime.[2]



If JonScholar's link provides an accurate telling of its story, then I think we should be worried that something similar happened in this one. Again, we only have preliminary FBI information. If we go by the objective test, I think that there's a good possibility that Mahomud was a victim of entrapment, as the article says that the FBI contacted him first, and gives us no information as to who first proposed the bombing.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:18 pm UTC

So, objectively, what evidence do you have that the government was acting in a manner that would be considered entrapment?
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Oregonaut » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:20 pm UTC

Because they arrested a minority, man. They're all, like, out to get them man!
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Arancaytar » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:25 pm UTC

In what seems to be retaliation, a fire was set in a mosque in Portland.

This is clearly a great way to demonstrate how terrorism is bad.
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Belial » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:26 pm UTC

Yeeeah, I'm actually with jonscholar. The FBI "lost" the one conversation that would "prove" that this wasn't entrapment. And since they had to know at an early stage that the conversaton wasn't recorded, they could've given him the choice again, and clearly didn't. That says to me that A) they never gave him the choice and were afraid that if they did he'd beg out and B) They knew this was entrapment, but just figured they could lie to a judge and/or jury about it later. After all, who are they going to believe? The agents in nice suits or the mean brown terrorist from north 9/11-stan?

If we don't just blindly assume that the FBI is above board (and, I mean, they are nice suits), then what it looks like is that they took this guy, intentionally impoverished him, and then constructed a fake terrorist cell and told the guy, who they put over a barrel, that his only way out was to involve himself with a plot they invented and goaded him into.

Without that conveniently "missing" conversation, this is entrapment. In any just system, in the absence of that conversation, he'd be free to go. And, y'know, maybe the FBI is telling the truth. Maybe they actually did lose the conversation that proves they're not dirtier than flypaper in a landfill, and then somehow failed to recreate it. If so, then by all rights it should be on their conscience that their shitty police work let a terrorist go free, but he nevertheless should be going free.

Izawwlgood wrote:So, objectively, what evidence do you have that the government was acting in a manner that would be considered entrapment?


They created a terrorist plot, and then paid him to join it. At this point, the burden of proof is on them to prove that it wasn't entrapment.

But it's okay. They have proof. They just lost it.

But you can take their word on it.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Aetius » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:35 pm UTC

Entraptment is a hard sell at the best of times, but selling the idea that "Your honor, I totally didn't have a predisposition to bombing civilians during a holiday ceremony, but the nice FBI agents just made it sound like such a great idea" is especially tough. I've seen a lot of sweet talkers in my day, but I've never seen one good enough to convince a normal person that mass murder is something he should really be getting into. It's not like the FBI convinced this guy that a Ford Mustang is totally a symbol of badassery and he should buy one.

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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Oregonaut » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:36 pm UTC

So, your contention is that the FBI is bad until proven not. And this kid who wanted to blow up a van near a bunch of civvies is a victim of these bad people, yes?
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:39 pm UTC

I'd actually wager the non-release of this 'crucial' conversation was due to the FBI not wanting a tried and true conversation piece aimed at providing a clear choice to potential targets, from leaking. Given that the FBI has been implicated in entrapment before, I'd say it'd be in their best interest to record things, surely, but also to ensure that busting a single target doesn't effectively release the script for the questions and options agents are required to give.

Incidentally, while I agree it's suspect that there's missing recordings, the man was recorded acknowledging what the effects of his blast would be, and his determination in detonating said blast. Furthermore, that this kid had no previous training as a terrorist or no prior criminal record TOTALLY exonerates him, right, because there's NO WAY anyone without a degree from The Al-Qaeda Bomb Making School of the Arts couldn't get involved in a plot, amiright?
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Re: Attempted Bombing in Portland foiled by FBI agents

Postby Jahoclave » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:41 pm UTC

I also have to wonder why the only terrorist plots we hear about are the ones being foiled by the FBI and not the ones where things go explody in shopping malls. Seems to me that there isn't exactly a plethora of real threats out there.

I also love how Portland is now, "reconsider" it's cooperation with the FBI, in that, they are looking to cooperate more. Gee, that seems convenient.


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