A teenage American national of Somali origin with suspected links to Pakistan-based terror outfits has been arrested by FBI for allegedly trying to detonate a car bomb at an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregano.
The arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, last evening was the culmination of a long-term undercover operation during which he had been monitored closely for months as his alleged bomb plot developed.
Mohamud was taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after he allegedly attempted to remotely detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van that was parked near the tree lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square.
The device was in fact inert; and the public was never in danger from it, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Mohamud is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Portland on Monday. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison and a $ 250,000 fine if convicted of the charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint Mohamud, in August 2009, was in e-mail contact with an unindicted associate (UA1) overseas who is believed to be involved in terrorist activities.
In December 2009, while UA1 was located in the northwest Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province of Pakistan, Mohamud and UA1 discussed the possibility of Mohamud traveling to Pakistan to engage in 'violent jihad'.
UAI allegedly referred Mohamud to a second unindicted associate (UA2) overseas and provided him with a name and e-mail address to facilitate the process.
"The complaint alleges that Mohamud attempted to detonate what he believed 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," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
"While the public was never in danger from the device, this case serves as yet another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad," he said.
In the months that followed, Mohamud allegedly made several unsuccessful attempts to contact UA2. Ultimately, an FBI undercover operative contacted Mohamud via e-mail in June 2010 under the guise of being an associate of UA1.
Mohamud and the FBI undercover operative then agreed to meet in Portland in July 2010. At this meeting, Mohamud allegedly told the FBI undercover operative that he had written articles that were published in 'Jihad Recollections', an online magazine that advocated 'violent jihad'.