- Associated Press - Sunday, November 28, 2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Patrols around mosques and other Islamic sites in Portland, Ore., have been stepped up as Muslim leaders expressed fears of retribution, days after a Somali-American man was accused of trying to blow up a van full of explosives during Portland’s Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams said Sunday he had beefed up protection around mosques “and other facilities that might be vulnerable to knuckle-headed retribution” after the bomb plot.

The move followed a fire Sunday at the Islamic center in Corvallis, a college town about 75 miles southwest of Portland, where suspect Mohamed Osman Mohamud occasionally worshipped, prompting an FBI arson investigation and concern about the potential for more retaliation.

Mr. Mohamud, 19, was being held on charges of plotting to carry out a terror attack Friday on a crowd of thousands at Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday afternoon.

His attorney, Stephen R. Sady, who has represented terrorism suspects held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, didn’t return a telephone message left Sunday by the Associated Press.

The suspect’s mother, Maryan Hassan, declined to discuss the issue when contacted by phone late Sunday by the AP, referring all questions to Mr. Sady. Mr. Mohamud’s father also refused to comment.

Somali leaders in Oregon — a state that has been largely accepting of Muslims — gathered with Portland city leaders Sunday evening to denounce violence and call for help for at-risk Somali youth.

“We left Somalia because of war, and we would like to live in peace as part of the American community,” said Kayse Jama, executive director of a local organization founded after the 9/11 attacks to fight anti-Muslim sentiment. “We are Portlanders. We are Oregonians. We are Americans, and we would like to be treated that way. We are your co-workers, your neighbors.”

Earlier Sunday, worshippers at the damaged Islamic center expressed concern about retribution.

“I’ve prayed for my family and friends, because obviously if someone was deliberate enough to do this, what’s to stop them from coming to our homes and our schools?” said Mohamed Alyagouri, a 31-year-old father of two who worships at the center. “I’m afraid for my children getting harassed from their teachers, maybe from their friends.”

Yosof Wanly, the center’s imam, said he was thinking about temporarily relocating his family because of the possibility of hate crimes.

“We know how it is; we know some people due to ignorance are going to perceive of these things and hold most Muslims accountable,” Mr. Wanly said. But he said Corvallis long has been accepting of Muslims.

Omar Jamal, first secretary for the Somali mission to the United Nations in New York, told the Associated Press his office has received “thousands of calls” from Somalis in the United States who are concerned about tactics used by federal agents in the sting operation against Mr. Mohamud.

An FBI affidavit said agents began investigating after receiving a tip from an unidentified person who expressed concern about Mr. Mohamud.

An agent e-mailed Mr. Mohamud, pretending to be affiliated with one of the people overseas whom Mr. Mohamud had tried to contact. Undercover agents then set up a series of face-to-face meetings with Mr. Mohamud at hotels in Portland and Corvallis.

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