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  Print view: The New York Times: What Passes for Journalism in the Newspaper of Record
MANIPULATING "ATTACKS" & PUBLIC FEAR:

Mohamed Osman Mohamud: Terrorist or Victim?

by Stephen Lendman
Monday, 29 November 2010
Why would FBI operatives incite an alleged terror attack? Why would the FBI perhaps choose the time and/or place? Why would they give anyone a "bomb" to commit violence, real or otherwise?

November 27 major media headlines accused him, including New York Times writers Colin Miner, Liz Robbins and Erik Eckholm triple-teaming him in their article titled, "FBI Says Oregon Suspect Planned 'Grand' Attack." Their saying so becomes accepted fact, according to corporate media reports - guilty by accusation.

It happens repeatedly. It's usually strategically timed, in this case to defuse anger over enhanced airport screening. It's also nearly always against Muslims, America's target of choice - of course, to justify imperial wars against Muslim nations.

The topic was addressed often in previous articles, including this one explaining how America's war on terrorism exploits and vilifies them. Hollywood and corporate media reports especially portray them stereotypically as culturally inferior, dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical, violent, dangerous gun-toting terrorists, wrongfully against Western values, high-mindedness, and moral superiority.

The Times recounted the latest accusation as follows:

"A Somali-born teenager who though he was detonating a car bomb at a packed (Portland, OR) Christmas tree-lighting ceremony downtown here was arrested by the authorities on Friday night after federal agents said that they had spent nearly six months setting up a sting operation" - to entrap him, what Times writers didn't say, or that it's standard FBI practice to snare innocent victims.

They're then wrongfully accused of crimes they either had no intention to commit or wouldn't consider without FBI provocation. In this case, an implied attack against Christmas and Christian values was alleged, or, in other words, "violent" Islam against "peaceful, morally superior" Christianity.

A November Justice Department press release headlined, "Oregon Resident Arrested in Plot to Bomb Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Portland Vehicle Bomb (that) Was Inert and Posed No Danger to Public," saying:

"Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a naturalized US citizen from Somalia and resident of Corvallis, Ore., has been arrested on changes of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction (note the hyperbole) in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb at an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony earlier this evening in Portland, Ore...."

"The arrest (followed) a long-term undercover operation, during which Mohamud had been monitored closely for months (read, set up) as his alleged bomb plot developed. The device was in fact inert (given him by FBI operatives); and the public was never in danger...."

On November 29, Mohamud will be arraigned in federal court. If convicted, he faces a potential life sentence and $250,000 fine. Dwight C. Holton, US Attorney for the District or Oregon, said:

"This defendant's chilling determination is a stark reminder that there are people (read Muslims) who are determined to kill Americans."

Assistant Attorney General for National Security, David Kris added:

"While the public was never in danger from the (rigged) device, this case serves as yet another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad."

Implied, of course, is just cause for imperial wars against Muslim nations, wrongfully portrayed as threatening US security.

For Mohamud, at issue is entrapment. It should automatically raise red flags when used. According to Law Professor Anthony Barkow:

"A person is entrapped when he has no previous intention to violate the law and is persuaded to commit the crime by government agents. But if he's already willing to commit the crime, it's not entrapment if government agents convince him to do it."

However, claiming intent doesn't prove it. Most often it's prosecutorial charges against the word of those accused, their side never getting out or is distorted.

Key unaddressed questions in Mohamud's case are why would FBI operatives incite an alleged terror attack? Did he really plan one, or did he say so under FBI provocation? Why would the FBI perhaps choose the time and/or place? Why would they give anyone a "bomb" to commit violence, real or otherwise? Why are only Muslims targeted? Might other motives be involved?

Most important is why perhaps was another innocent man incited, duped, set up, and now charged with what he may never have conceived of doing otherwise. Moreover, did he really want to detonate a bomb, or are key facts willfully concealed, especially the truth?

So far, it's unknown what he had in mind, if anything. Only FBI and corporate media accounts have explained, not Mohamud, who'll never be able to speak openly and freely, and if so, his side will be distorted.

Official accounts are notoriously falsified and exaggerated to incite fear, pitting the power of big government and big media against targeted victims, an intimidating mismatch.

The FBI said he "was in email contact with an unindicted associate (UA1) overseas who is believed to be involved in terrorist activities." In fact, he was an undercover FBI agent.

"In December 2009, while UA1 was located in the northwest frontier province of Pakistan, Mohamud and UA1 discussed the possibility of Mohamud traveling to Pakistan to engage in violent jihad. UA1 allegedly referred Mohamud to a second unindicted associate (UA2, another FBI operative) overseas and provided Mohamud with a name and email address to facilitate the process."

The account continued, saying he unsuccessfully tried to contact UA2. Then an undercover FBI operative (UA1) contacted him, agreeing to meet in Portland in July. Mohamud said he published an article in "Jihad Recollections" that also featured poetry, bin Laden speeches, and a how-to guide to global jihad.

In fact, the April 2009 issue in question carried bizarre images of masked fighters helping each other exercise. Yet, the entire magazine, including Mohamud's article, excluded calls for violence. Nonetheless, the FBI alleged he wanted to become "operational" but needed help.

At a second August meeting, he allegedly claimed a desire to commit violent jihad since age 15. Also that he identified a "potential target for a bomb: the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square...."

In response, the FBI alleged its "operatives cautioned Mohamud several times about the seriousness of this plan (emphasizing he) could abandon his attack plans at any time with no shame." If so, why did they give him the "bomb" to carry it out? Why did they lure him to a remote spot to detonate a "test" bomb in a backpack?

They also alleged he said "I want whoever is attending that event to leave either dead or injured," that he made a video with "apocalyptic phrases," and planned to leave the country after the November 26 incident.

What's true, false or uncertain isn't known.

Background on Muhamud

In 1991, he was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. In Portland, he attended Jackson Middle School and Wilson High School, then transferred to Westview High School in Beaverton. A classmate, Brandon Guffy, called him a "perfectly normal guy," saying he had Muslim friends interested in sports and hip-hop culture, and that he never acted extreme or talked about religion or politics.

A neighbor, Stephanie Napier, said his mother was extremely proud of her son, calling him her high-achiever who did well in school. She was shocked in disbelief about the accusations. The family practiced Islam, observed Muslim holidays and holy days, but didn't discuss religion at home. Napier called them "good people."

This past year, Muhamud was enrolled at Oregon State University but withdrew on October 6, according to school officials. No reasons were given.

On November 27, a Talk Left contributor, identified as Jeralyn, said:

"So there was no terror plot, except one hatched and incubated by the FBI, using a would-be surrogate they came across while intercepting internet chatter."

Firedoglake's Teddy wrote:

"How long are we going to let the cowboys shoot up our country with false terror plots and operations that would go nowhere without their instigation, planning, and coercion? How long will we allow our own federal constabulary to justify its own recklessly inflated budget by permitting actions like this to develop, fester, and grow operational in our midst?"

"This is terror, pure and simple. State-sponsored terror. Big splash terror designed to make people complaint and fearful, and grateful to their federal government," when, in fact, its operatives are at fault.

A Final Comment

It's high time an aroused public understood that terrorists R us, that inflammatory official Washington and major media accounts are either bogus or suspect to enlist popular support for state crimes. They include imperial wars and repressive laws assuring police state justice against anyone challenging government policies or, in Mohamud's case, for political advantage.

They also plan mass impoverishment once deficit cutters finish transferring maximum public wealth to rich elites and corporate favorites. Unless public outrage stops it, we'll all be as vulnerable as Muhamud, unsure whether our turn may be next, yet unaware of what we should already know - that America is on a fast track to tyranny, no longer a fit place to live in!

Indifference is no longer an option! Political prisoner Lynne Stewart's November 19 letter to supporters called organized people "boots on the ground for righteousness. I love you all," she said, quoting an excerpt from Seamus Heaney's "The Cure at Troy," saying:

"Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

History says, don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed for tidal wave
Of Justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme."

That tidal wave's time is now!


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on November 29, 2010.
 

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