PORTLAND, Ore. — A year ago, a tall, skinny teen named Mohamed Mohamud stepped out of an SUV just north of Portland’s Union Station. There, according to the FBI, the Somali-born American punched 10 digits into a cell phone believing it would ignite a vanload of explosives 16 blocks away—where a Christmas tree lighting ceremony was due to take place.
The 19-year-old became one of America’s accused “wannabombers.” The bomb he allegedly tried to ignite was a harmless fake rigged by the FBI and presented to him by undercover operatives posing as Islamic terrorists. Their suspect, charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, was part of a series of FBI terrorism stings since 9/11.
Government officials have praised the stings as a means of preventing terrorists from harming people on U.S. soil. In some cases, the FBI has supplied suspects with money, transportation and realistic weapons — including surface-to-air missiles.
Defense lawyers, including Mohamud’s, argue that the operations amount to illegal entrapment. Mohamud became the 14th and youngest suspect to mount an entrapment defense in one of the FBI’s stings. The 13 men who previously argued entrapment have been tried, found guilty and sent to prison for terms ranging from six years to life.
Mohamud’s trial is set for May 15.
The Islamic Association for Education and Transfer of Knowledge has been fined for operating a device to block cell phone usage in the vicinity of a Tilburg mosque.
The banned device, which sends out strong radio signals that make phoning in the immediate vicinity impossible, blocks cell phone use as well as reception for emergency services.
NIS News reports that the mosque halted cell phone usage in order to allow worshipers to pray in peace. It faces a fine of 650 euros.
MADRID, Spain (AP) – At Mussa Bachiri’s butcher shop, the customers used to include a man now jailed on suspicion of playing a role in the Madrid terror bombings of 2004. The alleged bomber was just a casual acquaintance who ran a cell-phone store down the street. Still, Bachiri wonders if he is not somehow tainted by association – simply for sharing the man’s Moroccan roots and Islamic faith. My Spanish neighbors look at me the way they always did, Bachiri said, pausing on an afternoon of chopping beef and slicing liver in Lavapies, an immigrant-rich district of Spain’s capital. But deep down inside, who knows? Two years after the massacre that killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,500, human rights groups and Muslims themselves say with relief that there has been no significant backlash against Spain’s estimated million-strong Muslim community. But Muslims feel targeted in subtler ways – a rise in job application rejections, trouble finding housing, grumbling from neighbors when they want to set up a mosque. This is not something you can measure. But people live it. They notice it, said Begonia Sanchez, spokeswoman for immigrant aid group SOS Racism. They notice it when they get on the bus. They notice it when they seek work. They notice it when they run into neighbors in the stairwell. Islamic militants claimed responsibility for Spain’s worst terrorist attack, saying they acted on behalf of al-Qaida to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq.