FBI undercover operatives helped fund Mohamed Osman Mohamud’s would-be terrorism plot to detonate a car bomb during a Portland, Or., Christmas tree-lighting ceremony on Friday at a crowded public square in the heart of the city, says the Seattle Times. Operatives helped him find components needed to create a bomb and schooled the 19-year-old Somali-born man in how to set off the explosives. The sting operation enabled the FBI to amass a formidable amount of details about what a grand-jury indictment yesterday charged was Mohamud’s attempt to use a car bomb as a “weapon of mass destruction.”
Mohamud’s attorneys and some local Muslims are raising questions about whether the operatives who posed as co-conspirators played their role too well. Defense attorney Steve Sady questioned whether the operatives were “basically grooming” Mohamud to try to commit a terrorist attack. “The information released by the government raises serious concerns about the government manufacturing a crime,” according to a statement released by Sady and Steven Wax, public defenders assigned to represent Mohamud. Law-enforcement officials say they gave Mohamud plenty of opportunities to opt out of the bomb plan and that he was committed to carrying out the crime at the time, place and location of his choosing. “I am confident there is no entrapment here,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. Portland Mayor Sam Adams praised federal handling of the case. Imtiaz Khan, president of the Islamic Center of Portland and Masjed As-Saber, a mosque where Mohamud worshipped, said several people at the mosque had questioned why law enforcement helped orchestrate such an elaborate plan for a terrorist act.