The Portland “Bomb Plot”

The FBI have claimed that on November 26, they foiled a bombing attack on a Christmas tree lighting in Portland. The attack was allegedly to be carried out by a nineteen-year-old named Mohamed Osman Mohamud. It now appears that this “terrorist attack” was almost entirely planned and executed by the FBI. This has inevitably raised questions from some circles about the FBI’s handling of the case. I think it can be argued that what the feds did amounted to entrapment.

I have some other reservations about this case. According to people who knew him, Mohamed Osman Mohamud drank gin and played video games as well as a card-collecting game called Magic: The Gathering. This doesn’t sound like your stereotypical Muslim fanatic. Rather, it sounds like a mixed-up teenager who was being pulled in different directions. Wouldn’t it have been better for the FBI to steer him in the direction of counseling, rather than cultivating his most destructive fantasies? The feds even went so far as to carry out an explosives demonstration for him in a remote area of Oregon. (Your tax dollars at work.)

Assuming that what the FBI says about Mohamud is true, what they did was irresponsible and dangerous. What certainty did they have that their proddings wouldn’t set this troubled youth off on violent acts of his own initiative? They had none. In effect, they were gambling with people’s lives. (If the FBI claim that there was no chance of such a thing happening, then they are effectively saying that Mohamud wasn’t dangerous.) The FBI’s gamble has had other effects. Someone recently tried to set fire to a mosque in Corvallis, where Mohamud lived.

The FBI are more interested in promoting themselves and their “War on Terror” than in serving the community.

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