The plot described by the FBI was horrific: a 19-year-old Somali-born Muslim with a grudge against the West, ready to kill and maim thousands at a busy Portland Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
But while the FBI describes Mohamed Osman Mohamud as a would-be terrorist, there were few hints of that hidden life to Mohamud’s friends, who knew him as “Mo,” a quiet, suburban teen who liked to drink gin and play video games.
The teen who allegedly thought he was going to kill thousands of people the day after Thanksgiving in the name of Islamic radicalism is the same one who, three days earlier, wrote and read a Kwanzaa poem about unity with two Christian college students.
Court documents and Mohamud’s friends describe the slender Somali-American as juggling contradictory lives — that of an immigrant struggling to fit in and a Muslim who had become radicalized and was bent on holy war.
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