Federal agents in a sting operation arrested a Somali-born teenager just as he tried blowing up a van full of what he believed were explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony, federal authorities said. The bomb was a fake supplied by the agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested on Friday just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would set off the blast but instead brought federal agents and police swooping down on him.
“The threat was very real,” said Arthur Balizan, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. “Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale.”
The FBI affidavit that outlined the investigation alleges that Mohamud planned the attack for months. It said Mohamud was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could be killed, and that he could back out, but he told agents: “Since I was 15 I thought about all this” and “It’s gonna be a fireworks show ... a spectacular show.” Mohamud was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.