Security changes in downtown Portland

Security changes in downtown Portland

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by Teresa Blackman, kgw.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on November 29, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 30 at 10:16 AM

PORTLAND -- Mayor Sam Adams assured Porlanders that it's still safe to visit downtown Portland, even after a young Somali-American planned a bomb plot targeting Pioneer Square.

Adams said that citizens should feel a level of confidence that Mohamed Osman Mohamud was acting alone and the city is not a specific terror target. However, Adams told KGW Monday that security changes have been made to ensure the ongoing protection of citizens.

Chief Mike Reese said he felt there should be another layer of protection at the Square and will met with Commissioner Nick Fish to discuss getting rid of parking around the Square during big events.

The mayor also said citizens will likely notice more security officers, too.

“We have beefed up patrols… to prevent any sort of copycat efforts but also just to re-assure people… in downtown Portland and around facilities like mosques and other places, to prevent any ill-guided retribution to the Muslim-American community.”

Video: Raw interview with Mayor Sam Adams

Early Sunday morning, a fire was intentionally set at a mosque in Corvallis, where Mohamud sometimes worshipped. The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the person or people behind that arson.

More: Arson fire set at Corvallis mosque

In Portland, Muslim leaders and members of the Somali community have spoken out to decry the terror plot and said they want Portland to know they stand for peace, not violence.

More: Somali community rallies at City Hall

Meantime, Mayor Adams also told KGW that he plans to “re-visit” the city’s possible involvement in the national Joint Terrorism Task Force. Adams said he initially voted against it, due to concerns he had about civil rights being violated, but he will do “a fact-based review” to try and figure out what’s best for Portland now.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman said on Monday that he believe the city council should take "immediate steps" to rejoin the JTTF.

As for Friday's bomb threat, Portland’s Police Chief told KGW in an interview Monday morning that he never felt citizens were in danger, due to the vigilance of FBI agents involved in the elaborate undercover operation that eventually led to the arrest of Mohamud as he tried to detonate what he thought was a bomb in Pioneer Square.

“He (Mohamud) certainly had intent to commit a horrific act of violence,” Reese said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation told Reese about Mohamud’s alleged plot in late September, but the chief was under strict orders not to share the information with anyone outside of the investigation – not even his boss, Mayor Sam Adams.

Chief Mike Reese said he was shocked when he learned that Portland’s tree lighting ceremony was a terrorist’s prime target. But he was confident in the FBI’s efforts.

“I was confident that we had right things in place to protect our citizens,” Reese told KGW.

Video: Raw interview with Police Chief Mike Reese

Prior to Friday night’s arrest, Reese was only allowed to discuss the plot with a small number of co-workers who helped in the investigation. “This was an undercover operation and secrecy was critical for the operation,” he explained.

KGW Reporter Anne Yeager contributed to this report

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