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Somali Jailed for 30 Years Over Christmas Bomb Plot

Somali Jailed for 30 Years Over Christmas Bomb Plot
Mohamed Osman Mohamud. (Handout/Reuters/Landov)

Wednesday, 01 October 2014 05:48 PM

A court jailed a Somali-U.S. man for 30 years on Wednesday for plotting to blow up a crowded Christmas tree ceremony attended by thousands in Oregon.

Mohamed Mohamud, 23, was found guilty last year following a three-week trial over the 2010 plot, after he was snared in an FBI sting operation involving a fake bomb that he tried to detonate.

Prosecutors said that Mohamud actively participated in the plot that could have killed thousands attending the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 26, 2010, had the bomb been real.

"Mohamud is being held accountable for his attempted use of what he believed to be a massive bomb to attack innocent civilians attending a public Christmas tree lighting ceremony," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General John P. Carlin.

But lawyers for Mohamud claimed he was tricked by undercover agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Judge Garr M. King flatly rejected that argument.

"The intended crime was horrific," said the judge, adding that Mohamud "never once expressed a change of heart" despite being offered alternatives by undercover FBI agents.

Up to 10,000 people attended the Christmas tree ceremony, the judge added, saying the defendant "wanted everyone to leave either dead or injured," according to an FBI statement.

 

 

The FBI operation began in June 2010 when an undercover agent contacted Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen and former student at Oregon State University, pretending to be a friend of a jihadist contact Mohamud already had in Pakistan.

After meeting the agent, Mohamud said he had been thinking of conducting a "holy war" since the age of 15, and suggested the plot to bomb the traditional pre-Christmas ceremony.

FBI undercover operatives cautioned Mohamud several times about the seriousness of the plan, noting that there would be many children at the event.

But Mohamud responded that he was looking for a "huge mass that will ... be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays," according to court documents.

Mohamud also collaborated with the undercover agents in detonating a device in a rehearsal in a remote location, and recorded a video in which he read a written statement that offered a rationale for his bomb attack.

He was arrested shortly after trying to set off, with a fake detonator, the bogus bomb in a van parked near Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, where the Christmas tree ceremony was under way.

Mohamud was convicted in January last year of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

He apologized in court Wednesday shortly before being sentenced.

"The things I said and did were terrible. I want to apologize to everyone, to the community," he said, according to the Oregonian newspaper's website.

The case is one of numerous FBI sting operations involving Muslims in the United States in the years since the 9/11 attacks.

A recent study of more than two dozen cases by Human Rights Watch and Columbia University found that the FBI encouraged and sometimes even paid Muslims to commit attacks in the course of undercover operations.

Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has defended the FBI undercover operations as "essential in fighting terrorism."

© AFP 2019

   
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A court jailed a Somali-U.S. man for 30 years on Wednesday for plotting to blow up a crowded Christmas tree ceremony attended by thousands in Oregon.Mohamed Mohamud, 23, was found guilty last year following a three-week trial over the 2010 plot, after he was snared in an...
attacks, Somalia, crime, Muslim
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2014-48-01
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 05:48 PM
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