PORTLAND -- An assumption by a Beaverton teen arrested for planning to blow up a crowd at a huge Christmas tree lighting was both right and wrong, according to a local terrorism expert.
Gary Perlstein of Portland State University said Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, viewed Oregon as a kind of policing backwater and a place where no one feels vulnerable to terrorism.
He's quoted in an affidavit as saying we was unconcerned about the location of his bomb plot, saying "it's in Oregon, and Oregon like, you know, nobody ever thinks about it.
Too bad for the teen he was half wrong, Perlstein said. There may be a casual attitude here on the part of the public. Not so the police.
"I'm happy to say our FBI is not asleep at the switch," he said. "I don' know about anybody else . . I mean citizens believe terrorism is gone, or there is no terrorism in Oregon?"
He pointed out that Oregon has a unique history of extremism, going back to the so-called "Portland Seven."
Two years before the 9/11 attacks, five would-be terrorists went to Bly in Southern Oregon scouting for an Al-Qaida training camp. The group was later convicted on federal charges.
Two years later, six men traveled overseas trying to reach Afghanistan and join the Taliban. One made it, one died fighting coalition forces. Five were later arrested and pled guilty to trying to kill Americans. A seventh was convicted on money laundering charges related to the trip.
In a still pending case, an Ashland arborist and peace activist, Pete Seda, faces sentencing for plotting to send money to Muslim fighters in Chechnya.