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U.S. Police Arrest Teenager Seeking To Carry Out Terror Attack

A teenager has been arrested in the United States in connection with a plot to detonate what he thought was a car bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

Somali-born Mohamed Osman Mohamud is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Mohamud, 19, was arrested on November 26 as he called a mobile-phone number he thought would ignite a bomb at a ceremony in the western U.S. state of Oregon that was attended by thousands.

The young man, caught in the city of Portland, had to be restrained during his arrest as he lashed out at agents, yelling and kicking them, said a U.S. government complaint.

The fake bomb had been provided to Mohamud by undercover agents as part of a long-term sting operation by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Arthur Balizan, a senior FBI agent in Oregon, was quoted by news agencies as saying the threat was very real. "Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale," he said.

Yet officials said that the public had never been in danger from the device and during the sting operation.

Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen and student at Oregon State University, had been tracked since 2009 after authorities found out he was in contact with a suspected terrorist believed to be in Pakistan.

The man allegedly referred Mohamud to a partner overseas and provided Mohamud with a name and e-mail address, according to the court documents.

Mohamud was allegedly not successful in his attempts to contact the partner.

'Body Parts And Blood'

In June, an FBI undercover operative contacted Mohamud via e-mail under the guise of being an associate of his Pakistani contact. The two met in July in Oregon.

Federal officials said Mohamud told FBI agents that he had thought of waging violent jihad, or holy war, since the age of 15. He had also said that he had written articles in "Jihad Recollections," an online magazine that advocated violence against non-Muslims.

In the following months, Mohamud told the undercover agent that he had identified the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square as a potential target for a bomb.

Mohamud decided to proceed with the plot despite opportunities to back away, according to the complaint, which quotes him praising the September 11, 2001, attack on New York City. He was also quoted as saying that he wanted to see "body parts and blood" in Portland.

Officials said Mohamud planned to flee the United States after setting off his bomb.

The Mogadishu-born young man is expected to appear in court on November 29. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Oregon U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton said Mohamud's "chilling determination" was a reminder that there are people -- "even here in Oregon" -- who are determined to kill U.S. citizens.

compiled from agency reports