Portland terror plot: The FBI’s role

Did the FBI stop a terrorist threat or create one?

If alleged terrorist Mohamed Osman Mohamud wanted to hit his fellow “Portlanders where we live and breathe,” said Steve Duin in The Oregonian, the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at the city’s Pioneer Courthouse Square would be the right place. But when the 19-year-old Somali-American student tried to blow up a bomb in a white van he’d parked near the festive, crowded square last week, the only thing he triggered was his immediate arrest by the FBI. Undercover agents had set Mohamud up with inert explosives, and his arrest was “a testament to good intelligence and law-enforcement work,” said Byron York in The Washington Examiner. The FBI’s “chilling” affidavit makes Mohamud’s nefarious intentions quite clear. Not only did he buy parts for the bomb and scout out the site; when reminded there would be thousands of people at the ceremony, including many children, Mohamud said coldly, “I know,” adding that he wanted every single person there “to leave either dead or injured.”

Let’s not forget this is just the FBI’s version, said Glenn Greenwald in Salon.com. Many times in the past, the FBI has found “some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner,” created a plot for him, then “patted itself on the back” for thwarting a terrorist plot that was entirely its “own concoction.” All we know for sure is that the FBI agents posed as terrorist leaders, gave Mohamud money to stay in Portland, suggested he become “operational,” and helped him obtain and plant a bogus bomb. Every step he took to bring this plot to fruition was done “at the FBI’s behest and with its indispensible support and direction.” So did the FBI stop a terrorist threat—or simply create one?

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