As 12,000 people attended a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, on November 26, Mohamed Osman Mohamud attempted to detonate a truck full of explosives. The explosives were duds, the fbi had been watching him for months, and Mohamud has now been charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
The bomb, had it detonated, “could have killed hundreds,” according to the Portland Tribune.
Portland’s own actions put the city at risk. In 2005, the city council decided to end Portland police’s cooperation with the fbi’s Joint Terrorism Task Force—the same task force that thwarted Mohamud. The mayor at that time, Tom Potter, wanted top-secret security clearance to ensure that the fbi didn’t violate the state’s anti-discrimination laws, but the fbi refused it. The American Civil Liberties Union praised the city’s refusal to work with the fbi, saying there is “ample evidence that several fbi task forces elsewhere have targeted individuals because of their political or religious affiliations.”
The fbi succeeded, despite the city’s obstruction. But it could have been very different.
Now, the city says it is considering renewing cooperation with the task force—claiming that it trusts U.S. President Barack Obama more than it trusted President George W. Bush. As the Washington Times writes, “It’s more likely that the near miss clarified Portland’s ivory-tower view of the world.”
This is not the first time political correctness has hampered U.S. security efforts. The Times reports that in the 1990s, the government restricted how many agents could keep taps on the growing number of religious jihadist cells in the country.
“So, for example,” writes the Times, “agents might know that a meeting of radicals was taking place inside a mosque, but they could not watch the building or even collect the tag numbers of cars parked in the parking lot because the entire structure was off-limits.”
Even today, America’s Transport Security Administration (tsa) is hugely unpopular, all because the government refuses to profile those who are obviously potential terrorists. Giving invasive pat downs to small children and elderly people in wheelchairs doesn’t make the country safer. Focusing on young, Arabic looking men would.
The fbi began a sting operation involving Mohamud after he repeatedly tried to get in contact with terrorists in Pakistan. They repeatedly gave Mohamud opportunities to walk away from the whole thing, telling him, “You always have a choice, you understand? With us, you always have a choice.”
But Mohamud insisted he wanted to go through with the attack. “Do you remember when 9/11 happened when those people were jumping from skyscrapers?” ask Mohamud. “I thought that was awesome.”
Before the fbi contacted him, Mohamud was trying to travel to Pakistan to receive weapons and explosives training. Without the fbi’s vigilance, Mohamud could have gotten a real bomb from real terrorists, and caused some real destruction.This political correctness is endemic in the United States, as well as in Britain and many other Western nations. It is a real danger.