Omar Jamal, first secretary to the Somali mission to the United Nations, condemned the plot and urged Somalis to cooperate with police and the FBI.

Talk to them and tell them what you know so we can all be safe, Jamal said.

Somalia Foreign Minister Mohamed Abullahi Omaar said his government is ready and willing to offer the U.S. any assistance it may need to prevent similar attempts. He said the attempt in Portland was a tragedy for Mohamud's family and the people he tried to harm.

Mohamud's attempt is neither representative nor an example of Somalis. Somalis are peace loving people, said Omaar, whose government is holed up in a few blocks of the capital, Mogadishu, while much of the country's southern and central regions are ruled by Islamist insurgents.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have resettled in the United States since their country plunged into lawlessness in 1991, and the U.S. has boosted aid to the country.

In August, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment naming 14 people accused of being a deadly pipeline routing money and fighters from the U.S. to al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliated group in Mohamud's native Somalia.

At the time, Attorney General Eric Holder said the indictments reflect a disturbing trend of recruitment efforts targeting U.S. residents to become terrorists.

Officials have been working with Muslim community leaders across the United States, particularly in Somali diasporas in Minnesota, trying to combat the radicalization. U.S. counterterror officials have been warning for more than a year and a half about the escalating threat from al-Shabab, which they say has been recruiting young Somali-Americans, luring them home to fight and train.

Because they often carry U.S. passports, officials worry that they may be returning to the U.S. to form sleeper cells and carry out terror attacks.

If Mohamud is found to have ties to al-Shabab, including travel to Somalia or training in camps there, it would be the realization of the long-held fear that the group can successfully coordinate and inspire attacks on U.S. soil.

Read or Share this story: