Feds Foil Oregon Bomb Attempt

Somali-born teenager plotted to carry out a car bomb attack at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in downtown Portland on Friday, but the bomb turned out to be a dud supplied by undercover agents as part of a sting.

The Feds sold a fake bomb to a Muslim, who tried to use it to use it on Christians:

A Somali-born teenager plotted to carry out a car bomb attack at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in downtown Portland on Friday, but the bomb turned out to be a dud supplied by undercover agents as part of a sting, federal prosecutors said.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested at 5:40 p.m. just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would blow up a van laden with explosives but instead brought federal agents and Portland police swooping in to take him into custody.

Mohamud yelled “Allahu Akhkbar” and tried to kick agents and police as the arrest came, according to prosecutors.

He was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton released federal court documents Friday that show the sting operation began in June after an undercover agent learned that Mohamud had been in contact with an “unindicted associate” in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier region.

Aside from a pet peeve that car bombs aren’t weapons of mass destruction (a term that everyone but the US Federal Government uses to mean nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological devices) this looks like more good work by the FBI.  They identified a threat, did their leg work to build a case, and captured the guy harmlessly.   That the would-be terrorist was likely an imbecile who wouldn’t have been able to get his hands on a real bomb is mere conjecture.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Brett says:

    This still worries me, though. We don’t get much in the way of smaller level attacks (like this one would have been) for years after 9/11, then suddenly we’ve had, what, 4 or 5 in the last year or two? And yes, I know that there are bomb threats and the like that go on all the time that we don’t hear about on the news.
    Any connection to Awlaki?

  2. Brett says:

    Testing-
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  3. It seems like we get one of these every now and then. Some guy, or guys, who wouldn’t know the right end of an Kalishnikov, make an amateurish attempt to make connections with terrorists and end up getting ensnared in an FBI sting. Then we get big headlines when they’re arrested telling us that another “terror plot” has been foiled.

    But, has it?

    Are we really foiling a terrorist plot when the entire thing was a sting operation, or is the FBI just taking advantage of the fact that criminals are often stupid to make it look like they’re accomplishing something?

  4. Steve Plunk says:

    Dumb criminals have managed to kill people.  A dumb terrorist is still a terrorist.

  5. Risa Denenberg says:

    It’s more than a pet peeve. Somehow a  politically convenient definition of WMD has been foisted into popular parlance.