Federal law enforcement officials arrested Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, and accused him of plotting to bomb the square during a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. The charges against Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-born 19-year-old who was caught in a federal sting operation, are testing tolerance in a state that has been largely accepting of Muslims.
Many questions remain about the extent of Mr. Mohamud’s connections to Islamic extremists, whom investigators say he wrote to and plotted with, as well as about the apparent contradictions in his personal life, as a studious, friendly teenager and a young man seeking to wage jihad within his adopted country.
Many Muslims in Oregon worried that they would face a backlash. And on Sunday, local Muslim leaders emphasized that the case was an isolated incident. Portland Mayor Sam Adams said Sunday that he beefed up protection around mosques “and other facilities that might be vulnerable to knuckle-headed retribution” after hearing of the bomb plot. The move followed a fire Sunday at the Islamic center in Corvallis, a college town about 75 miles southwest of Portland, where suspect Mohamed Osman Mohamud occasionally worshipped, prompting an FBI arson investigation and concern about the potential for more retaliation.