Somali Americans living in Seattle

Nov 29, 2010, 2:23 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Portland-area Somali Americans rallied last night calling for “peace and unity” following allegations that Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a U.S. citizen of Somali descent, plotted to detonate a bomb at Portland’s Christmas tree lighting in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Organizers e-mailed a statement that simply reads, “The Somali American community strongly condemns any type of violence. We left Somalia because of violence.”

A group of Somalis also met in Seattle last night to discuss possible backlash from the bomb plot in Portland that was not carried out because the FBI got a tip and intervened.

Many Somalis in the Northwest fled the civil war in East Africa in the 1990s. Their struggles are documented in a Seattle Channel story from last year. The “community stories” series profiled Seattle’s Somali community, which is one of the fastest growing populations in the city. An estimated 25,000 Somalis live here.

That growth has led to economic, political and religious successes as well as challenges. Just as they started to have some success in the community, the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, set them back again.

In the documentary, Mohamed Sheikh Hassan, a leader in Seattle’s Somali community, says Somali businesses in Seattle were unfairly targeted by the federal government including being raided by federal agents. Some worry they will be unfairly targeted again, following the bomb plot in Portland.

In the 38-page criminal complaint , Mohamed Osman Mohamud explained how he chose a target for his alleged plot, “…it’s in Oregon; and Oregon like you know, nobody ever thinks about it.”

Mohamud attended Oregon State University, but OSU has distanced themselves from the suspect with this statement on their website:

Mohamed Osman Mohamud formerly attended OSU beginning in fall 2009, but has not been enrolled since Oct. 6 of this year. He was a “non-degree” student, meaning he had not been formally admitted to the university to pursue a degree program, but was instead taking individual courses. His coursework spanned the Fall 2009 and Winter 2010 quarters, and he had not taken additional courses until this fall’s quarter, which began in late-September, but then dropped all his courses in early October.

Mohamud began taking courses as a non-degree student at OSU after graduating high school in Portland, and lived at an off-campus location in Corvallis.

Mohamud is scheduled to appear in federal court in Portland today on a charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

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Somali Americans living in Seattle