A federal jury today convicted Mohamed Osman Mohamud for attempting to detonate a car bomb at Portland's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 2010.
The 21-year-old Mohamud, a naturalized citizen from Somalia, faces life in prison for the plot, which was exposed by an undercover FBI investigation. Mohamud was arrested on Nov. 26, 2010, after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van. Undercover FBI agents had provided him an inert device.
In August 2009, Mohamud contacted Amro Al-Ali, a Saudi national who was in Yemen at the time and is today in custody in Saudi Arabia for terrorism offenses. Al-Ali sent Mohamud detailed e-mails designed to facilitate Mohamud’s travel to Yemen to train for violent jihad.
Eventually, an undercover FBI operative contacted Mohamud via e-mail under the guise of being an Al-Ali associate. At a meeting in Portland, Mohamud told the FBI undercover operative he wanted to become "operational" and said he wanted to put an explosion together but needed help.
Mohamud told the undercover FBI operatives he wanted to bomb the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square on November 26, 2010. Mohamud indicated he would not mind carrying out a suicide attack on the crowd, according to the FBI.
Hours before the planned attack, Mohamud examined the 1,800-pound fake bomb in the van and remarked that it was "beautiful." Later that day, Mohamud was arrested after he attempted to remotely detonate the inert vehicle bomb.
The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Oregon State Police, Corvallis Police Department, Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, and the Portland Police Bureau.