Nightly News   |  November 27, 2010

Alleged bomb plot stuns Portland residents

According to court records, the 19-year-old suspect said he had been interested in jihad since his early teens, even writing for a jihadist website under an assumed name. NBC’s Jim Forman  reports.

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>> so who is this teenager? authorities say wanted to cause so much mayhem in portland ? for that we go to jim forman of king-tv. jim , good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, savannah. they called this square portland 's living room . is home to the city's large civic events like last night when 10,000 people packed in here to usher in the holidays. it would be a perfect target for a would-be bomber. today portland 's pioneer courthouse square was alive with the sounds of the holidays and full of shoppers. it it was here federal prosecutors allege mohamed osman mohamud wanted to detonate his car bomb during friday evening's christmas tree lighting ceremony. portland 's mayor tried to reassure the public and offered high praise for law enforcement .

>> this individual was really going to carry out mass destruction in portland . so i'm really pleased they were as patient, they were as smart.

>> reporter: mohamud said he had been interested in jihad since an early teen even writing for a jihadist website. he went to beaverton where classmates recalled he once gave a presentation on how to make an explosive device. while the details of the plot are shocking enough, even more stunning to portland 's residents is that it happened here.

>> that's really scary. at least they caught him.

>> reporter: at pioneer courthouse square today, the local muslim community handed out what they call peace flyers. leaders were quick to distance themselves from mohamed mohamud and the alleged bomb plot.

>> we condemn terrorist wholeheartedly and believe there's no room for violence in islam and that we need to start taking a stand for peace.

>> reporter: friends say mohamud was outgoing. certainly not a loner. they do add he would joke about being a terrorist. they thought nothing of that until now. savannah?

>> jim forman in portland for