Mohamed Osman Mohamud Was Turned In by His Parents, Neighbor Says

Friday night's arrest of Portland's would-be bomber Mohamed Osman Mohamud raised fears once again of the potential threat posed by radicalized Somali immigrants. But some believe the case sets a positive example in one respect: Mohamud's parents may have turned their own son in.

That what's a former neighbor of Mohamud tells Seattle Weekly. The neighbor, who now lives in Seattle and declines to be identified, says he was a friend of Mohamud's mother, a U.S. Postal Service worker named Mariam Barre.

The neighbor says Barre confided to him about her long-running efforts to control her son, who at one point had threatened to blow up his high school. After Mohamud went away to Oregon State University in Corvallis, Barre would call her son daily and drive down to the school during long weekends to take him home, according to the neighbor. She refused to give him money to go with friends to Los Angeles during a school break, fearing that he would get into trouble.

Mohamud's parents were so concerned that they eventually contacted law enforcement, the neighbor says. (The Barres could not be reached immediately for comment.)

The neighbor wants the parents' efforts known because he believes that might help stem any hostility toward Somalis provoked by the attempted bombing.

Others don't see a need for any apologies, particularly given the way the FBI acted on the information it got. Rather than steering Mohamud away from dangerous activities, the agency goaded him on, points out Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the state branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Undercover agents set Mohamud up with the fake bomb, and then arrested him.

Still, Northwest Somali leaders don't seem to have come up with their own plan for dealing with troubled youth tempted by jihad movements--a problem we reported on in a cover story last year. There was a flurry of community meetings after authorities arrested some 20 young men who were allegedly involved in terrorism back in Somalia, including Seattleite Abdifatah Yusuf Isse. Leaders talked about the need to engage youth in positive activities, according to Bukhari, who participated in the meetings, but nothing concrete emerged.

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