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Latest American Taboo: Somali-born Teen Plotted Car-bombing In Oregon (American Muslims' Perspective)

30 November 2010

By El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan

Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):

The latest scare dominating America's media mainstream is of a 19 year old naturalized citizen, from Somalia, who allegedly desired to do catastrophic damage to a community in Portland, Oregon. If we accept the reports that have already been broadcast on this unfortunate tragedy, on face value, it raises many concerns…or it should.

Let me state clearly and forcefully, up front, that if this young man indeed desired to do what he's been accused of, I'm glad that he's been taken off the street, and he should be punished.

The punishment, however, should fit the crime; and a life sentence - for what he merely wanted to do (with FBI assistance) - would be brutally excessive to say the least!


Late last month, Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Virginia was arrested and accused of casing Washington-area subway stations in what he thought was an al-Qaida plot to bomb and kill commuters. Similar to the Portland sting, the bombing plot was a ruse conducted over the past six months by federal officials.

And a year ago in another federal sting, 19-year-old Jordanian Hosam Smadi was arrested on charges he intended to bomb a downtown Dallas skyscraper. Federal officials said he placed what he believed was a car bomb outside the building but was instead a decoy device given him by an undercover FBI agent.


With that said, here are my concerns.

1.      Does anyone believe that the decision to arrest this disturbed young man at this time - in what most reports are saying was a months long investigation – was by mere coincidence? (If so, how convenient for the TSA and its supporters.)

2.      Again the question arises, in yet another Muslim/terrorism related case, of how far did the FBI go in building their case around this young man. Were one or more provocateurs involved?

3.      Why must the government always allow plots to continue to the extent that it allows them to bring multiple charges which, when coupled with the "terrorism enhancements" on the day of sentencing, allows for draconian sentences that many (if not most) convicted murderers in America don't even receive. ("The bomb was an elaborate fake supplied by the agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.")

4.      I agree wholeheartedly agree with Somali Foreign Minister Omar. This alleged terrorism attempt is not representative of the Somali people – nor is it representative of Islam and/or the Muslim personality. If the reports are accurate, something very specific happened in this young man's life that caused him to be this way. What was it?


In every one of these cases there are one or more common threads that binds them together: (a) anger/rage – in response to U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world; (b) intellectual and spiritual immaturity; (c) emotional stupidity; (d) mental imbalance; (e) the manipulation of financial need.

I do hope that our non-Muslim relatives and friends will bear this in mind with each sensational case that briefly dominates the airwaves and headlines; and with each malicious anti-Muslim and anti-Islam propaganda assault that follows.

I also hope that we, Muslims in America (esp. leaders and organizations), will do a better job of factoring this reality into our individual and collective response each time we feel ourselves to be on the never-ending defensive.

In the struggle for peace thru justice,


Mauri' Saalakhan is a Metropolitan Washington, DC, based human rights advocate, who serves as Director of Operations for The Peace Thru Justice Foundation.



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