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Mohamed Osman Mohamud: What Made Him Hate?

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Once again, the troubling question arises: How can someone come to these shores, accept the hospitality and bounty of a new country, swear fealty to its people and Constitution, then plan to commit mass murder in the name of religion?

And once again, leaders of a local mosque – this time in Portland, Oregon – warily attempt to reassure their fellow Americans that one disturbed and dangerous young Muslim does not speak for their community. The alleged plot interrupted by the FBI was shocking even in an age in which we have become inured to indiscriminate terror: Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali immigrant, was arrested Friday night on charges that he tried to detonate a van he believed was filled with explosives in the middle of a city square during a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Was he really prepared to kill so many people, especially children, an undercover FBI agent asked Mohamud. "I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured," he reportedly replied.

And so, in this holiday season, Christians and Muslims – and Americans who are Jewish, or secular or spiritual in some other way – are asking themselves: Where does such hatred come from?

The geographical answer is Somalia, a failed state that has been at the mercy of warlords and murderous zealots for all of Mohamed Osman Mohamud's short life. The teenager was born in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in 1991, the year its brutal civil war was launched. He was brought to this country with his family when he was in elementary school and joined a fast-growing Somali community in Portland.

One of the most hideous features of the Somali civil war is how children are pressed into service as fighters and indoctrinated with a merciless ideology. A detailed look into the dehumanizing effects of such recruitment appeared in The Washington Post on Saturday morning -- before the story in Portland had broken. The Post profiled one such teenage fighter, Abdul Qadir Mohammed, and his transformation from innocent boy to violent jihadist.

It is clear that the men recruiting Somali boys as child soldiers do not stop their efforts just because those boys' families bring them to America. On Saturday, Oman Jamal, first secretary of the Somali mission for the United Nations, told reporters that some 20 Somali youths living in Minneapolis have been recruited by terrorist organizations and summoned to Somalia to fight for a terrorist organization.

"At some point in his life, someone must have put this threat idea in his mind," Jamal told the Portland Oregonian in reference to Mohamud. "We want to know who that is. We want to deal with the root of the problem."

Those roots may run deep. Most recently, Mohamud was active at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Corvallis while attending classes at Oregon State. Yosof Wanly, the imam at the center, describes Mohamud as being a typical college student who attended campus athletic events, drank an occasional beer, and enjoyed rap music and popular culture – and who didn't attend services at the mosque regularly. In other words, he didn't appear particularly radical. [The center also issued a strongly worded condemnation denouncing "this horrible plot ... that does not in any way represent Islam or Muslims." ]

But the FBI affidavit filed Friday pursuant to Mohamud's arrest quoted the suspect as telling an undercover agent that he had been committed to jihad since he was 15 years of age. Students at Westview High School in Portland recall a student whose anti-American feelings were intense, if ill-defined.

A former classmate of Mohamud's named Andy Stull told Portland's Channel 8 KGW News about a dispute the two boys had over a messy locker. "The main thing was, the way he said he hated Americans," recalled Stull. "It was serious. He looked me in the eye and had this look in his eye, like it was his determination in life – 'I hate Americans!'" Stull recalls being sufficiently worried that he reported the encounter to school counselors, but he said he never heard any follow-up.

Another former high school classmate who asked not to be identified said that for a physics class project Mohamud chose to detail the workings of a rocket-propelled grenade. "It was just weird about how someone would choose that, you know," the classmate told KGW.

So far, Mohamud's family has not spoken publicly about the arrest, but some in the close-knit Somali community in Portland have come forward. The suspect's father is described as an active member of the community and his mother as someone who does not wear a hijab, signifying a family life that was tolerant and progressive. "This is a family everyone looks up to," a 24-year-old immigrant identified only as "Ali" told the Oregonian. "They are the most educated modern Somalis. I'll bet this is their worst nightmare, too."

Amin Dawid, another Somali resident of Portland, told the paper that Mohamud wasted the opportunities he had been given as a young citizen of the United States. "He fell into something wrong,"said Dawid. "We stand with the family, but we reject all kind of violence."

That sentiment was echoed by leaders of the Portland Islamic community as well. After Mohamud was arrested on Friday, Arthur Balizan, FBI special agent in charge of Oregon, called local Muslim leaders to apprise them of the plot, the arrest and the impending news storm. "There was a tone of apprehension," Balizan said, "and also a tone of sadness that this had happened."

At a Saturday press conference held outside Portland City Hall, local Muslim leaders joined in denouncing the plot and expressing gratitude to law enforcement authorities for breaking it up before any loss of life could occur. "We condemn strongly any act of violence, any act that would target innocent people," said Imam Mikal Shabazz of the Oregon Islamic Chaplain Organization.

"He's not alone," Shahriar Ahmed of the Bilal Mosque in Beaverton, added in reference to Mohamud. "But that is the exact type of mentality that we are trying to stand against – Christian, Muslim, Jew and reasonable people – globally."

Ahmed also added a personal note, saying he was speaking not just as a Muslim, but as a father. His own daughter, he said, was among the thousands at Pioneer Courthouse Square for the Friday evening tree lighting ceremony that Mohamed Osman Mohamud intended to turn into a sea of suffering. "God forbid this would have happened," Ahmed said. "She would have been dead."

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39 Comments

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samdecent

when white man do or plan to kill people,you put syco or sick man but any body else with his color & relegion must be mention.only holy people on earth is white people & what ever they say,plan or play is nothing but truth,since the history of this world.

December 02 2010 at 7:58 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Hey Noww!

Mr. Cannon, I will attempt to answer your question: As is evident to the 99% of those who have been living on Planet Reality since (to pick a date totally at random) 9/11/01, what "made him hate" might be this thing called "the jihad." Despite what some say, this "jihad" thingie is said to mean either "Holy war against the infidels" or "a deeply personal struggle." I recall that both Mohamed O. Mohamud and Major "Soldier of Allah" Hassan were happy to yell out the words "Allah Akbar!" as they killed (or tried to kill) the infidels. Please also note that Mohamed O. Mohamud has been living in the U.S. since he was 5 - he was not pressed into service in Somalia. He, like Major Hassam, has enjoyed all of the benefits of a prosperous, pluralistic Western economy and has not been "oppressed" by "poverty" or "the Zionists." Yet, both felt compelled to commit (or attempt to commit) mass murder. We note that M.O.M. also took particular pleasure in the hope that his bomb would kill and maim families (whcih of course meant children). I am told that this "jihad" thing is a tenent of the religion known as Islam. Therefore, I respectfully submit that it was fundimentalist Islam that "made him hate," just as it drove his counterpart to open fire at the army base in Ft. Worth, Texas only one year ago. I further submit that if there really is someone who can't bring himself to reach that same conclusion, it is proof that denial is not just a river in Egypt.

November 30 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Wei

The problem is these people are stuck in a culture getto in America that shields itself from the real American culture. they marry only people of their own faith and nationality, these people are stuck in a old world mentality. the problem is they are not assimulating into American values.

November 29 2010 at 9:38 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Reddog

Who cares about What Made Him Hate?. The only thing I care about is when is he going to die?

November 29 2010 at 9:03 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
frenchblue367

I don't particularly care what made this young man hate so much. What I do care about is how this is being handled within the Muslim communities. Only two people (non-Muslims, at that) noticed his behavior as alarming? No one in his mosque, religious groups or family noticed his change towards the violent, even if it was gradual? I find that difficult to believe. Getting to the root of the cause is one thing, but we already know what that is: Islam intends to wipe out all non-believers. As for finding the person or persons who put this idea into this young man's head, why bother? Either way, this young man is not only a wanna-be murderer, he's a coward. After all, he did not strap a bomb to his butt and enter the crowd himself. He intended to detonate the bomb from a remote location, saving himself. So much for believing in the cause. Coward.

November 29 2010 at 8:53 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
Eileen

Islam is a cult created by a man, Mohammed, who wrote a manifesto and included just enough Judeo-Christian tenets for him to declare that it was a religion and he was the last prophet of God.. (and I am the Queen of England) Read the Quran - all the way through. The best part is the final third of the book where he says to ignore the earlier peaceful passages and pay attention to the final passages where these fun things are found: LIE to the Infidel to further the Goals of Islam..to Impose Sharia Law on the Entire Earth.. to bring Jihad to every other country on the face of the earth until they obey and to either destroy or enslave the Infidel. Who are infidels.. why.. That's all of the rest of us, no matter what we believe. We didn't start the Jihad.. but I'm willing to be part of the people who stop it. Google "The Bloody Borders of Islam" to see "Peace" at work.

November 29 2010 at 8:39 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
sconcreteguy

I don't understand. If he and people like him, hate Americans so much, why do they live here? Why not go back to their own country where they'll be happy? Why do they end up hating to the point of murder? What's missing in their own lives that they care so little about others?

November 29 2010 at 7:59 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
wordssmithrv

These people are criminals. They come from the same mentality as the Unibomber. They hide behind jihad and defame Islam and Mohammed’s teachings. They bring horrible pain to their families and their community. They don't hate Americans. They hate themselves. They are trying to make statements to bolster their non-existent egos. It happens in all ethnics. They are sick.

November 29 2010 at 3:05 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
nikkitytom

Religion has caused more violence and deaths and heartbreak than almost any other factor on the globe. Until we ALL realize that NONE of us has the answers to the great mystery of life and death, of God and the miracles of the Universe ... that NO ONE KNOWS .... then religion will forever be a vehicle for oppression and the quest for power. We just DON'T KNOW what this great mystery is. In moments of silence and prayers, some of us feel a connection with a Higher Power ... but to presume that any of us has God's ear and is intermediary between God and someone else is hubris .... and dangerous. The only reality we CAN experience is love, compassion, generosity and above all EMPATHY .... were we all taught empathy rather than that "our" God or religion is the ONLY way .... there would be a huge leap forward to that point in which we will hopefully one day, understand we are all part of that ONE. We are all part of God. It is so simple.

November 29 2010 at 1:33 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
ladkraemer

the communities must start going against their counterparts in the middle east. They must start showing the virtues of religious tolerance. The must bring Islam into the modern world and stop trying to bring the modern world back into the dark ages. Islam can be part of the American community as long as they show America that they are American first.

November 28 2010 at 10:31 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ladkraemer's comment
SteveO

Exactly, that's how America was founded. We rebelled against the ways of the Old World and forged the New World, and it's a much shinier place, nice to live :).

December 05 2010 at 8:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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