Teen charged over ‘bomb attempt’ at US Christmas celebration

A 19-year-old Oregon, US resident has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction after a sting operation; authorities say Mohamed Osman Mohamud, born in Somalia, tried to detonate a van bomb using a mobile phone at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland.

The device, police stated, was fake; he reportedly obtained it from undercover agents during a sting operation. Reports say Mohamud, a US citizen, had been in regular contact with somebody in north-west Pakistan.

Portland was the scene of an alleged bombing attempt. Image: Jamidwyer.

Authorites intercepted e-mails they say were between Mohamud and this contact in August 2009. Holton reassured Oregon residents, adding that there was “no reason to believe there is any continuing threat arising from this case”. Mohamud allegededly told an FBI agent “I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured.” Dwight Holton, a U.S. attorney, described Mohamud’s “chilling determination” as a “stark reminder that there are people—even here in Oregon—who are determined to kill Americans.”

An FBI agent told reporters “[t]he threat was very real. Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale. I want to reassure the people of this community that, at every turn, we denied him the ability to actually carry out the attack.” On the day of the tree lighting ceremony, he drove a vehicle to the area where the event was to be held, and was arrested, prosecutors said, twenty minutes before the tree was to be lit. He kicked at agents as they tried to apprehend him and shouted “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great!).

Court papers indicated that an undercover agent told Mohamud that he was an associate of the Pakistani contact. When the agent and Mohamud discussed the plan, Mohamud said that he wanted a “huge mass that will be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays”. Mohamud told the agent that he had wanted to carry out a jihad (holy war) against the U.S. since he was fifteen years old.


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