- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A divided Portland City Council voted Thursday to rejoin the FBI-led anti-terrorism task force and assign two police officers to participate on a full-time basis.

Ten years ago, Portland became the first city to abandon the task force, and it has remained the only major city that does not fully participate. Every FBI field office in the country has a terrorism task force, comprising federal agents and local law enforcement.

Portland rejoined on as-needed basis in 2011. The half-in, half-out arrangement satisfied no one and Mayor Charlie Hales decided to revisit the issue. His was the swing vote in a 3-2 decision.

Hales said although he was ashamed at some actions of the FBI and federal government, he was appalled by the radical evil in the world today.

“Most recently, the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen and Boston are incidents in which people, we call them terrorists, attacked their own communities and murdered their neighbors,” he said. “And I think any conceit that we might be exempt from that radical evil here is unfortunately removed by what happened in those places.”

Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Steve Novick opposed the measure.

At a public hearing two weeks ago, numerous residents criticized the FBI’s role in what they considered the entrapment of Mohamed Mohamud. The Somali-American teenager was arrested in a 2010 plot to detonate a bomb at the lighting of the city Christmas tree.

The bomb was a fake supplied by undercover agents as part of a sting operation that began after Mohamud’s father contacted the FBI because he feared his son was headed toward extremism. Mohamud was later sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Novick said many leaders in the Muslim community say Muslims do not trust the FBI and would have less trust for Portland police if it joins the task force.

“People might not warn us of potential threats if they don’t trust us,” Novick said.

The city withdrew from the task force in 2005 after federal officials refused to give secret clearance to then-Mayor Tom Potter, who said he had to ensure that city officers follow Oregon laws barring police from investigating people because of their religious or political ties.

The issue of civilian oversight has consistently remained a sticking point. Hales said he and the police chief will instruct officers on what’s expected of them.

Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland division, praised the council’s decision in a statement after the vote: “We all care deeply that our community stay safe, but also that the people who live, work and worship here can do so freely and without fear.”

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Associated Press writer Gosia Wozniacka contributed to this report. Follow Steven DuBois at https://twitter.com/pdxdub .


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