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Belief Beat

Terror Suspect Thwarted at Oregon Tree Lighting; Muslims Fear Backlash

I’ll always remember Thanksgiving 2008 as the one where we carved the turkey to the sounds of CNN, anxious for updates on the attacks on Mumbai’s hotels, train station, cafes and Chabad House. Fortunately, this year’s holiday weekend remained terror-free, thanks to federal investigators who caught Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a “confused” Somali American teenager accused of plotting to bomb a Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore.


It’s good news — except that now Muslim Americans are even more vulnerable to backlash. Here in the Pacific Northwest, there have already been several local stories noting that our Somali community is on high alert. Many fear there may be attacks on their mosques, like the fire set at the Islamic center Mohamud had attended.


What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

P.S. In the true spirit of the holiday, here’s the text of President Obama’s Thanksgiving proclamation and a New York Times story about an interfaith Thanksgiving service in suburban New York, my old neck of the woods.

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posted November 29, 2010 at 9:40 am

I understand he was pointed out to authorities by a U.S. Muslim because he was going radical. Like as not it was someone in that congregation. Then some idiot thanks them by trying to burn their building down. We need the good will of our Muslim citizens but the Fox News/Republican Party radicals jeopardize that to incite fear to win an election. And it worked. We may be too dumb to stay a free country long term.
On a related note, from Glenn Greenwald’s column, which is worth reading on this, Mohamud said to the FBI:

Undercover FBI Agent: You know there’s gonna be a lot of children there?

Mohamud: Yeah, I know, that’s what I’m looking for.

Undercover FBI Agent: For kids?

Mohamud: No, just for, in general a huge mass that will, like for them you know to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays. And then for later to be saying, this was them for you to refrain from killing our children, women . . . . so when they hear all these families were killed in such a city, they’ll say you know what your actions, you know they will stop, you know. And it’s not fair that they should do that to people and not feeling it.

The point being that Mohamud sees himself responding to the US attacks which have, in fact, killed thousands of innocent Muslims in the oil lands and Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The longer we have troops fighting over there, and the longer Israel is using our weapons to kill Palestinians, the more people will be disposed to attack us this way and the more likely some will succeed.

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Jemima Boucher

posted November 29, 2010 at 9:53 am


posted November 29, 2010 at 11:07 am

Let me get this straight. One of their own plans an elaborate death trap, is caught and they are worried. What’s the first thing they are worried about? Not the hundreds of families who were targeted. Oh no. They’re worried first that the subhuman beast was ‘lured into it’. And then they’re worried that there could be retribution. If the so-called ‘moderate Muslims’ of the world would make a stand—a REAL stand, not the half-assed mumbling they do now—against terrorism, perhaps we can talk. Until then, they are part of the problem. I’m sick of them and their worrying that the big bad US is going to do them wrong.

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Robert C

posted November 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Ah. Let me see nnmns, the Fox News web site has a piece up on this topic which is an AP release. Which Fox news misrepresentation were you referring to, or are you just stabbing in the wind again? If they are suffering backlash in Portland, one of the most ‘liberal’ states, be relieved that this didn’t happen in Texas ( I am sure you would have the usual fun in labeling that reaction if that were so ).
Also while your counting the dead in muslim countries by our hand, try also keeping a historical tab on the dead incured by Islamic actions, although I am sure that such tabulations can become tedious. So now if I get this right, you believe that all American support of our allies should cease simply to prevent others from intimidating us through terrorism? Really? I daresay you’ve concotted a potential recipe for imminent international blackmail and increased threats. Label that one the Betty Crocker Terroist Cookbook. But you are right that we need the active participation of all American muslims in their civil duty to protect the commonwealth, and we need to insure their collective safety in turn.

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posted November 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm

The point being that Mohamud sees himself responding to the US attacks which have, in fact, killed thousands of innocent Muslims in the oil lands and Pakistan and Afghanistan.
So it’s our own fault that we’re being attacked by Muslims? What’s the long-term solution to this, nnmns?

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posted November 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Long term, get our soldiers back here or where they are welcome. Historically, empires have not lasted and some have had bad ends. We are spending money we don’t have fighting in countries that aren’t threats to us and upholding some “friends” who do nothing for us but harm.
And try to comfort people like BJ in their terror. Such fearful bigotry does us no good.

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posted November 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Jester, is it so hard to understand that, yes, our actions in the world do have consequences? Frightened and angry people sometimes retaliate, just as the person who tried to burn down the would-be terrorist’s mosque retaliated. The problem is, whether you’re talking about terrorists reacting to what terrifies them by retaliating against innocent Americans and Europeans, or a firebomber retaliating against innocent American Muslims, it’s the knee-jerk “need” to retaliate at all that perpetuates the problem.
And BJ, I’m part of an interfaith group, so I see the concerted effort the international Muslim community has made (letter-writing campaigns, peace conferences, joint resolutions, advertising campaigns, public outreach etc.) to take a stand against extremism. You don’t see it or hear it because, to a large extent, the media are not reporting it. Right after 9/11 moderate Muslim clergymen gathered 5000 strong for a peace conference in New York. Only the BBC covered it, which means you’d only have heard about it if you tuned into NPR and listened to the BBC news. The Muslim community isn’t mumbling– we’ve just got our prejudices turned up too loud.
Peace doesn’t sell newspapers, I guess, or get you as many “eyeballs” as violence and controversy.

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posted November 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm

To add detail, our soldiers should be here or where they are welcome unless they are needed to fight a war that we need to fight. We never needed to invade Iraq and it’s cost us dearly. I was in favor of attacking Afghanistan, and we might possibly have quickly caught or killed Osama except Bush pulled our forces out to invade Iraq and Osama got away from Tora Bora.
Afghanistan isn’t much of a threat to us except as our missiles kill civilians and make us hated. And it looks a lot more like a bog than a chance for a victory. And it’s costing an arm and a leg; well, lots of arms and legs and eyes and lives. We need to declare victory and leave.
And then there are those who want us to make the supremely stupid mistake of attacking Iran, which is of no threat to us. A country that could be a threat to us is North Korea; it has nuclear weapons and could sell them to terrorists or one day even launch one at Hawaii at least. Iran can’t do those things and has enemies around it that should take care of themselves; we don’t need to do it and can’t afford to do it.

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posted November 29, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Since when has any American Muslim suffered from Backlash !?
More innocent Muslims died in the Twin Towers on 9/11 than have from any “Backlash.”

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posted November 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I’m extremely glad the would be bomber didn’t succeed. I have a niece who is in college in Portland. It is possible she was in the crowd that was at the tree lighting. What a shame some idiot decided to set fire to that Mosque. That act alone might prevent another member of the Muslim community from turning in a radical.

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posted November 29, 2010 at 11:53 pm

I’m extremely glad too.

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Anan E. Maus

posted November 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Christ said, “in the world you will have trouble, but do not fear, because I have overcome the world.”
Terrorism and terrorists have no power outside of God’s control. If we spend our time in prayer, charity and Bible study, we will stay in God’s heart of protection. Endlessly worrying about every dire possibility is not our spiritual duty.

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posted November 30, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Somehow Anan E.M., I don’t think my spending time in prayer,charity and Bible study would stop the would be bomber/terrorist. I prefer to let the autiorities do that. Sorry, I’m not putting my trust in any divine being to protect me or my family and friends. If it works for you, go for it. I’ll stick to reality.

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posted December 26, 2010 at 10:12 pm

It is time muslims fear…rightly so…

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