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Mohamed Osman Mohamud: The Somali teen who wanted to bomb Portland

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IN PICTURES: American Jihadis

A few minutes earlier, Mr. Mohamud thought he was about to explode a bomb in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square – he’d picked the site himself for what he assumed would be “a spectacular show” – where thousands of families had gathered for the traditional Christmas tree lighting.

Working with men he believed were associates in his terrorist plot, he had said earlier: “I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured.” He seemed giddy with excitement as he punched the buttons on a cellphone he thought would detonate a van packed with explosives.

Mohamud was arrested Friday night, and he’s due to appear in federal court in Portland Monday to face charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

The 38-page government affidavit details a plot that began in August 2009.

Although Mohamud made initial e-mail contact with an “unindicted associate” in the northwest frontier province of Pakistan, that never went anywhere. Instead, it became an undercover operation with FBI agents – who’d been tipped off to the young man’s intentions – posing as individuals who could help him follow through on his stated desire to wage violent jihad by becoming “operational.”

Over the next several months, the undercover agents developed a relationship with Mohamud – careful to avoid anything that might later suggest that he’d been the victim of entrapment. He mentioned how he’d been thinking of committing some form of violent jihad since he was 15 years old.

He sent them parts for a detonating device – mainly from Radio Shack – and plans for the attack site and the means for avoiding capture. Once, he went to a remote site with the undercover agents to detonate a test bomb in a backpack.

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