I know I mockingly joke about there actually being a war on Christmas, but this following story shows that there was at least one instance where someone took the war on Christmas a bit too far by trying to blow up a Christmas tree lighting festivity in Portland. It's a good thing the FBI was there to stop it... Though they were also the ones to fund it.
The FBI thwarted an attempted terrorist bombing in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square before the city's annual tree-lighting Friday night, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon.
A Corvallis man, thinking he was going to ignite a bomb, drove a van to the corner of the square at Southwest Yamhill Street and Sixth Avenue and attempted to detonate it.
However, the supposed explosive was a dummy that FBI operatives supplied to him, according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint signed Friday night by U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta.
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a Somali-born U.S. citizen, was arrested at 5:42 p.m., 18 minutes before the tree lighting was to occur, on an accusation of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The arrest was the culmination of a long-term undercover operation, during which Mohamud had been monitored for months as his alleged bomb plot developed.
"The device was in fact inert, and the public was never in danger," according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The investigation involved the FBI, Oregon State Police, Portland Police Bureau, Corvallis Police Department and Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.
Mohamud will appear in U.S. District Court in Portland on Monday.
"This defendant's chilling determination is a stark reminder that there are people -- even here in Oregon -- who are determined to kill Americans," said Oregon U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton. "The good work of law enforcement protected Oregonians in this case -- and we have no reason to believe there is any continuing threat arising from this case."
According to the FBI affidavit, the case began in August 2009 when Mohamud was in e-mail contact with an unindicted associate overseas who was believed to be involved in terrorist activities. In December 2009, while the unindicted associate was in a frontier province of Pakistan, Mohamud and the associate discussed the possibility of Mohamud traveling to Pakistan to participate in violent jihad.
The associate allegedly referred Mohamud to a second associate overseas and provided him with a name and e-mail address. In the months that followed, Mohamud made several unsuccessful attempts to contact the second associate.
Ultimately, an FBI undercover operative contacted Mohamud in a June 2010 e-mail under the guise of being an associate of the first unindicted associate.
Mohamud and the FBI operative agreed to meet in Portland a month later. Mohamud allegedly told the FBI operative that he had written articles that were published in Jihad Recollections, an online magazine that advocated holy war.
Mohamud also indicated he intended to become "operational," meaning he wanted to put an explosion together but needed help. The two met again in August 2010 in a Portland hotel.
"During this meeting, Mohamud explained how he had been thinking of committing some form of violent jihad since the age of 15," the affidavit says. "Mohamud then told (the FBI operatives) that he had identified a potential target for a bomb: the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square on Nov. 26, 2010."
The FBI operatives cautioned Mohamud several times about the seriousness of his plan, noting that there would be many people, including children, at the event, and that Mohamud could abandon his plans at any time with no shame.
"You know there's going to be a lot of children there?" an FBI operative asked Mohamud. "You know there are gonna be a lot of children there?"
Mohamud allegedly responded he was looking for a "huge mass that will ... be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays."
Mohamud dismissed concerns about law enforcement, explaining that, " ... It's in Oregon; and Oregon, like, you know, nobody ever thinks about," according to the affidavit.
"The threat was very real," said Oregon's FBI Special Agent in Charge Arthur Balizan. "Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale. At the same time, I want to reassure the people of this community that, every turn, we denied him the ability to actually carry out the attack."
Mohamud maintained his interest in carrying out the attack and spent months working on logistics.
He allegedly identified a location to place the bomb and mailed bomb components to the FBI operatives, who he believed were assembling the device. He also mailed them passport photos so he could sneak out of the country after the attack, according to the affidavit.
He provided the FBI operatives with a thumbdrive that contained detailed directions to the bomb location and operational instructions for the attack.
On Nov. 4, Mohamud and the FBI operatives traveled to a remote spot in Lincoln County, where they detonated a bomb concealed in a backpack as a trial run for the upcoming attack.
On the drive back to Corvalis, FBI operatives quizzed Mohamud about whether he was capable of looking at the bodies of those who would be killed in his planned Portland attack.
"I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured," Mohamud reportedly told the FBI operatives, the affidavit says.
Later that day, Mohamud recorded a video of himself with the FBI operatives in which he read a written statement offering his reasons for the planned Portland bombing.
On Nov. 18, FBI operatives picked up Mohamud to travel to Portland, where they would finalize details of the attack.
David S. Kris, assistant U.S. attorney general for national security, said, "The complaint alleges that Mohamud attempted to detonate what he believes to be a vehicle bomb at a crowded holiday event in downtown Portland, but a coordinated undercover law enforcement action was able to thwart his efforts and ensure no one was harmed. "
While I'm all for catching terrorist and saving lives, I do have to wonder... Is this really the route the FBI wants to go? It's essentially NBC's "To Catch A Predator". You're giving people bombs and arresting them for having a bomb. I'm not sure if this is too far from the blurry line of entrapment, but I guess in this post-9/11 world, that's the norm.
I'm pretty sure that every step of the way they were all like "Are you really really sure you want to go through with this? You can say no at any time! We won't look at you any differently, you know." "Oh, don't say I didn't give you enough warning...." *wink wink*
I mean, he did have the legal alternative of not accepting and using the fake bomb offered. He did come up with the idea and the location he wanted to use it. But it's really worth noting that the FBI provided him with the dud bomb as well as showed off a real one in a test sample. Considering he never was able to get a hold of the second contact, I'm a betting man and putting my money on the fact that he would have never been able to get a bomb if it wasn't for the FBI.
But as a criminal attorney, I'm sure that it's going to be utterly impossible to find a blue-blooded American judge or jurist that would give a shit about this guy's civil liberties. Especially considering he's Somali.
I wish I got paid defense money to find pissed off teenagers on the internet who wanted to blow up a mall or get back at their step father Chad. It would be easy money.
There was a story a while back where they did the same thing with some mentally deficient fry-cook and it was concluded that if the FBI hadn't gotten involved, the dude would have never been able to procure anything more powerful than some firecrackers.
That's another reason why I'm taking offense to the whole idea that they are calling this a "Weapon of mass destruction". Since when is a pipe bomb in the same class of explosive destruction as a nuke or some chemical weapon?
Maybe it's more post-9/11 mentality in the work suggesting that anything that can kill more than one person is labeled as a wmd. So I guess you can lump my baseball bat I keep in the trunk as a wmd.
But, I mean, how else are they going to meet their arrest and conviction quotas, if not by some simple convictions of thought-crime. I guess this way of capturing threats isn't new. Just look to the 1200. How would you be able to find out who wanted to kill your king? Well, have the king offer to kill himself and whoever accepts the offer, just have them killed instead.
I think the real tragedy in all this is that the article actually talks about him as being a serious threat to this nation. He's an angst child. Nothing more. But now he's going to be the state's problem with three meals and a bed to pay for.
I mean, let's get past the fact that he tried to blow shit up with fake explosives, this news piece is getting all of the attention, which is bizarre considering that no one is paying attention to that news article about the Serbian dude with a huge bomb factory in his house in Escondido, Ca.
Stay Class, San Diego.
Plastic explosive PETN, weapons-making materials found in Escondido home
November 26, 2010 | 6:38 am
Authorities have discovered blasting caps and a quantity of pentaerythritol tetranitrate, a powerful plastic explosive known as PETN, along with a huge cache of weapons-making materials at the home of an Escondido man in jail on bomb-making charges.
PETN was the explosive used by would-be shoe-bomber Richard Reid and by terrorists worldwide, officials said.
The resident of the home, George Jakubec, 54, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Serbia, is charged with possession of explosive devices, possession of bomb-making materials, bank robbery and burglary.
Jakubec has pleaded not guilty, with bail set at $5 million. Prosecutors said he is an unemployed software consultant.
The house came to the attention of authorities when a gardener was hurt in an explosion.
On Sunday, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department bomb squad entered the house, retreating after seizing evidence that included homemade grenades.
On Wednesday, the squad reentered the house, finding it "extremely cluttered, making movement and observation extremely difficult," the Sheriff's Department said.
In a storage area outside the house, authorities found containers of hydrochloric acid, nitric acid and sulfuric acid and 50 pounds of hexamine, a bomb-making material, authorities said.
"Proactive operations on site have been suspended," the Sheriff's Department said. "Explosive material and hazardous chemicals remain within the house."
Local, state and federal explosives experts are conferring about a plan to reenter the house and remove the materials. No further action is expected until Dec. 1 at the earliest.
The charges against Jakubec do not include any allegations that he had used or sold any explosive devices, according to court documents. He apparently lived alone in the home; his estranged wife attended his court arraignment Monday.
Police have seized computers at the home in hopes of determining a motive for the alleged crimes.
So you're probably wondering what the significance of Hexamine is. Well, if you mix it with nitric acid you can produce RDX, which is a critical component for modern plastic explosives.... holy shit, am I talking like an expert in explosives as well as criticizing the FBI for essentially sponsoring a fake terrorist? Welp, I'm going to Gitmo. Hello Mr. FBI agents reading this clearly flagged blog post.
May I make a suggestion that perhaps this Serbian was simply trying to make some fireworks? I mean, it is Escondido. They called it "Hidden" for a reason, it should stay that way. It's like your backwater hickville. The only thing good about that place is that the Stone Brewery is located there and you can get some wicked beer there.
So perhaps that's the only reason why it shouldn't go up in flames. But isn't it funny that the majority of post-9/11 terror bust where actual weaponry and explosives are discovered by authorities involved white people. Where as the Islamic cases are either in pre-pre-planning stages. Or at least could be made a case of having some dealings with entrapment.
I'm really surprised that we haven't seen some sort of Timothy McVeigh level shit storm already. The modern tea party seems like the perfect candidates for that sort of stupidity from the far-right.
But in essence, this story is just more proof as to why Ron was right..
Fuck You, San Diego!