The Christmas Time Scare
By Devin Martin and Wright Russell
Photo courtesy of Flickr
On Nov. 26 in Portland, Ore., Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, planned to blow up a van rigged with explosives. He made the attempt during the lighting of the Christmas tree in downtown Portland but the FBI caught him, according to the New York Times. The New York Times also says that sources claim that Mr. Mohamud seemed to be a well-adjusted teenager at Oregon State University. In recent months, however, his behavior began to change drastically; he dropped out of school, stopped attending his mosque and lied about his plans for the future.
"He seemed to be in a state of confusion," said Yosof Wanly, the Imam at the Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center in Corvallis. Mr. Mohamud attended that Islamic Center while at college, Mr. Wanly told the New York Times. "He would say things that weren't true. "˜I'm going to go get married,' for example. But he wasn't getting married," Mr. Wanly continued.
"He knew he was going to get caught, he was just doing it to prove a point," says junior Brendan Schunck. What point was he trying to prove? "That there are a lot of people who hate the U.S., and a lot of terrorists that would risk their life to kill U.S. citizens," Schunck said.
"Out of a one to ten scale on how much [the bomb plot] scares me, it is a ten," said freshman Ryan Adelberg. Schunk says that is scares him to think that the country is safe and then hear about a threat as serious as this. "[It is] really, really scary to think someone would want to hurt woman and children," said junior Taylor Bierwagen.
So what stops this type of bomb threat from happening here in Syracuse? Schunck and Siegel believe that the fact that there are more people in New York City protects Syracuse from danger. They don't think that terrorists would bother to bomb us when New York City has many more people. A bomb in a place like Times Square would affect more people than a bomb in Clinton Square in Syracuse.
Even though Mr. Mohamud never actually stated this as one of his motives, Siegel speculates that racism was a main reason for Mr. Mohamud. "What stops it from happening here is that the community is more diverse than Portland is and in Syracuse I don't think that we care as much about race," Siegel said. Siegel believes that Syracuse is more accepting of all races so there is not as much hate and racism to push Mr. Mohamud or anyone to perform any terrorist attacks. According to information from the U.S. Census Bureau website, Syracuse is more racially diverse than Portland.
"I was very surprised to hear that the bomber was only 19," junior Brad Siegel said. Mr. Mohamud was just a few years older than most Jamesville-DeWitt High School students.
Sophomore Arielle Mussi was not surprised at the age of Mohamud. "You can't put an age on how crazy someone is. Little kids shouldn't be targeted and don't deserve to die, no one does," said Mussi. "It's absurd. He is 19. He shouldn't have bombing equipment," Adelberg said. "Horrible," Siegel said. "[It is] hard to comprehend why someone would do that," said Bierwagen.