Day 3

Oregon

08/04/2011

71 Comments

LETTERS TO A FRIEND
by Bassam Tariq

This past November, Mohamed Osman Mohamud planned to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. His plans were foiled by the FBI who had set him up in the first place. The thwarted bomb plot made headlines across the country declaring Mohamed a terrorist, a young radical. He was a student at Oregon State University and frequented the local mosque in Corvallis. There, Mohamed was known as MoMo, and he made many friends that challenged his sometimes extreme opinions, but still loved him for who he was.

Though his Muslim friends knew about Mohamad’s unorthodox views, they didn’t have the slightest clue on all the scheming that he was doing in the background. The last they heard of him was when he moved out of his dorm and into a new apartment.

The story of MoMo has disappeared from the headlines and is out of the sight of the American public. But the remnants of his poor decisions and betrayal of trust still linger on with his friends and the community that he has left behind in Corvallis, Oregon.

MoMo is not allowed visitation rights yet. The only way anyone communicates with him is through his defense lawyer. We asked some of his close friends from the Corvallis Islamic Center  to share what they would say to MoMo if they finally had the opportunity.

Raait writes his note to MoMo sitting in Le Cafe D’el Jebal . A lady friend sits off to the side and asks what he is writing. He tells her it’s a note to MoMo. Her eyes widen. “MoMo? You mean the ..” she spreads her hand dramatizing a big explosion, “that one?”

“Yeah,” Raait responds, “that one.”


Abe (name changed) was the most frustrated by MoMo’s actions. He knew about his crazy views and would argue with him day and night. but he never thought that he would go as far he did. “We all know that one crazy guy in the mosque, but we don’t think he’d ever do anything.” Abe was the most hesitant in sharing his words to MoMo. He instead decided to write something a little more indirect.

Ismail Warsame is a Somali American like MoMo. After the bomb plot was thwarted, many people in Corvallis thought Ismail was the attacker. He was also put in a unique position being one of the few Somali in Corvallis, he ended up becoming an ambassador and PR head for the makeshift Somali community.

 

Ali Godil has known MoMo since high school in Portland. It was during MoMo’s first year at Oregon State University that he began slipping away.

 

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  • Sameem

    After reading these, I just thought… “light upon light”

  • AmBBitious

    hand written letters.  Yes!!!  Following this journey has been amazing.  Allah bless you both and each story you capture and share and the hearts you touch through doing so, Ameen.  :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XLRII7IYRQECKQYZ63M54XMYD4 PatF

    All beautiful sentiments — yes, we absolutely must reach out to our youth. As we fail them, so our future will fail.
    Peace & goodwill to all!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V5XU7SXXKRDNRKC46EH3ARFZYY Watsername

    You know, these setup-convictions are actually pretty common.  

    I won’t say who [and it's not me] – but there’s been 2 of these in the past year. 

    • http://www.amanali.net Aman Ali

      Yeah they’re controversial. On one hand, it seems like a setup. On the other hand, the FBI would probably say “Well, he was the one that made all the decisions, we gave him multiple opportunities to back out.” I honestly dont know where I stand on it, but I think its safe to say these youth would have acted on their ideas if they werent approached in the first place.

      • Amina

        While I appreciate the idea of this post, I strongly disagree that it’s “safe to say these youth would have acted on their ideas if they werent
        approached in the first place.”

        I don’t know the details of this particular case beyond what was in the initial news, but I have looked into many of the other cases. Maybe one or two would have acted on their own, and I find that in itself disturbing and an issue our community needs to address.

        But many or even most of the cases are done for the money or because of coercion. Here’s a good article that gives the background on many of the more prominent cases:

        http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/07/06/fbi_foiled_terrorism_plots/index.html

        The article shows that many of the loudly-proclaimed “terrorism” cases we are flooded with in the news on a daily basis turn out to be funded, planned and implemented by paid FBI informants or operatives, who usually provide any property, vehicles, equipment, weapons, etc., too. They offer lots of money to desperately poor and sometimes mentally ailing people to go along with the “plots” in order to have Muslims to arrest and fuel the fear they need to keep the wars funded and the political games going.

        I am not trying to dismiss the issue of extremism in our community — extremism in either direction must be addressed, as we are guided to be a community of the middle way. Maybe more social services in Muslim communities would protect the mentally ill or extremely poor from agreeing to these plots, and engaging the youth could remind those who feel frustration never to give up hope of God’s Mercy.

        • http://kevix.myopenid.com/ kevix

          At some point, the FBI gets involved, they are law enforcement, so there job is to lead people to getting arrested, not save them from themselves or get them on a better path where they could learn better ways to deal or to make this person able to lead other people away from extremism. If there could be a way to get officials(federal, state, community, mosque) alerted to these people in crisis and intervene then you’d have no politically-useful headline and a better community.

        • ewkp

          I am frustrated with the “he was setup” attitude.  It’s not honest.  The FBI are amateurs when it comes to turning radicals into terrorists.  Actual terrorists are MUCH better at it.  Look at the success rate of actual terrorists compared to the FBI.  It’s black and white.  If you pick up a gun, if you agree to harm people you do not know, then you are evil.  It doesn’t matter if you thought of it yourself.  How many terrorists are thinking for themselves?  

          You want to know what the solution is?  The solution is that everyone, every single member of every single community, stands up and says NO NO NO NO.  Over and over and over. NO to their husbands, no to their children, no to their mosque, NO NO NO.  WE WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS. Every single day, with all the disdain and outrage and disgust we can muster.  NO.  If you do this, you are not one of us.

      • http://twitter.com/seanr1978 Sean Robertson

        You do have to consider the possibility of entrapment.  Sadly, that kind of crap occurs ALL THE TIME.  I only trust law enforcement as far as I can throw it given a pretty long history of (often deliberate) missteps.  And this after a very positive experience I had in NYC recently.  There’s just a wealth of history of this type of thing.  I simply hope the truth will out in court, whichever way the truth may lead.

  • falloch

    Yay, you’re doing it again! Logged in all last year but thought it would only be a one-year thing. Just checked out my bookmarks by chance tonight, only to discover you’re Ramadaning again! hope you have another amazing year – looking forward to your posts

  • falloch

    Sorry, didn’t read the prebious, serious, posts. Didn’t mean to be flippant – still looking forward to the next 28 days posts

  • Rehan

    I was hoping for some Oregon Trail reference or joke. disappointed. 

    • http://www.amanali.net Aman Ali

      Hahahah sorry about the disappointment Rehan

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=19706486 Mo-Kim Mohammad Almoussaoui

    Nothing bout the community, nothing bout being the first built mosque in oregon..  only free to bury islamic cemetery in the NW, 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KJB6IH45HBV4PFIPHAY4GQURCQ buriedinlit

    I dont have any sympathy for guys like this, I think as Muslims we need to realize that like every other group we have idiots.  I mean for people to try to deflect this as a setup come on.  Its one thing to say they set someone up with a chance to get a million dollars or something like that, but if you agree to bomb a christmas tree ceremony thats completely on you, thats not something that a normal person can be talked into or tempted by, thats just plain stupid and inhumane.  It also hurts the Muslim community greatly and reinforces stereotypes.  As for the arguments of oh this kid is young, come on hes in college, I would hope if you’re in college your able to use your brain.  I say whatever he gets he deserves, and lets just be thankful he wasnt able to succeed otherwise the fallout would’ve been much much worse.

    • Day Man

      Age nor position rarely reflects maturity or ability to think clearly. You would hope people in college would be able to use their brain but as you walk about college campus’s on Friday and Saturday night’s I think the people and their decision making skills would put your suspicion to a rest. If you knew him Mohameed Osman, you would know he was actually a better practicing Muslim then most of Muslims I know. Prayed His Sallats and even before indulging in substances he would pray Isha. I have sympathy for him because his life ended in the sake of a religion he didn’t even know. Think about this, FBI said he was never a true threat. They had him by the strings from 2 years + ago. Society was never at danger only his future was. Think about it, in the end who was really the Victim? 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KJB6IH45HBV4PFIPHAY4GQURCQ buriedinlit

        In the end the Muslim community is the victim because this guy was foolish.  I agree with you college kids make stupid decisions, but theres a huge difference between doing something foolish that may effect you, and doing something where your goal is to intentionally kill civilians.  As for him being a better practicing Muslim, I strongly disagree, you can pray all day and all night however if your actions do not reflect the principles of Islam then what good did you do.  I feel this is especially true of us Muslims living in non-Muslim countries, in a sense it is our duty to be good ambassadors of Islam to non-Muslims and help them to possibly see why our faith is the true one.  However people like this hurt the image of Islam which is a great sin.  As for the FBI, I by no means am a fan of some of the tactics they employ, however if you are making any affirmation of an intent to commit a crime of that magnitude then you have only yourself to thank for the predicament you landed yourself in.   No matter what any FBI agent says to any normal Muslim, nothing would make them affirm such a plan.  If someone came up to me and started talking about blowing up a tree lighting ceremony I’d call the police. Any person who would even consider doing such a thing is a threat in my opinion.  I shed no tears for his future because if he was that ignorant and impressionable then his future was never bright to begin with, all he did was further sully the Muslim community’s reputation.

        • Day Man

          Yes, I agree with you that one may stand five times a day and his actions throughout the day may highly conflict with the teachings of his belief. Like I said Mohammed as we all know clearly didn’t understand the principles of Islam because if he did, like you he would have called the cops when approached with such ideas or never had thoughts like it to begin with. Masjid Al Sabar In Portland, Oregon is riddled with undercover FBI informants. I personally know people who live there who have said a couple have even come out and admitted it, informants that approach people with wild ideas that sometimes do get called the cops on. Muhammed was raised there. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) to my best understanding said, “The Muslim Ummah is like a body and if one part is aching then the whole body is conscious of it. We all have creaks and cracks in our faith areas that temptation may arise and possibly ruin us. In Muhammed’s case he was ruined by one of his cracks. You say you shed no tears because if he was” that ignorant and impressionable then his future was never bright to begin with”. Be real with me brother how many born into Islam Muslims in America are indeed ignorant of their beliefs? Praying not knowing what their even saying? Praying 5 times a day with little understanding? Is that not ignorant? They say if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. Most Muslims in the United States indeed do stand but what for? They as well as I have little idea.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KJB6IH45HBV4PFIPHAY4GQURCQ buriedinlit

            You make a good point brother, however when I said he was ignorant I didn’t mean he was simply ignorant of Islam, I mean quite frankly he lacks what I perceive to be common sense.  I judge him not because of his failure to understand Islam because frankly none of us come close to truly understanding it.  You dont have to be religious or even smart, to know that killing innocent people in that way is wrong.  Frankly being Somalian he should appreciate the fact, that hes here in America with a chance to do something constructive for his personal life, his community, and his religion.  He could just as easily be dealing with famine and war in Somalia.  Instead he completely squandered it, and in fact negatively effected the community and the religion.  I could argue and say he was confused about the religion, but come on killing innocent people who are your neighbors doesnt come naturally to people so at very least you would think he wouldve further looked into the religion.  As for the FBI agents being prominent unfortunately thats not exclusive to the Portland area.  I am in the greater New York City Area and its the same here as I’m sure its the same in much of the rest of the country.  As long as there are ignorant people like this guy the FBI will claim their presence is justified, and frankly if they keep catching fools like him I cant really argue with that logic.  It would be too much of me to expect this guy to have a deep understanding of his religion, but I dont think its too much for me to expect a little common sense.   Frankly theres people rotting away in prison for less.   I myself would have more sympathy for someone living in poverty whos been busted stealing or selling drugs.  At least I can argue that person was tempted by the majority of examples in his community, and the lure of money is strong when you have no options for making real money.  Before you shed a tear for him, look at the prison population as a whole and I would say the majority of them deserve more sympathy then him.  Many of them had no real chance at college, and this guy had it.  Many of them didnt know a thing about Islam and once in prison open to it and accept it.  The Prophet said, “The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr.”  If this was a man without education living in the third world I would not judge him, but this is a man who had opportunities many muslims could only dream of, and threw it all away.  In the end Allah is the only judge that matters, but I definetly wont waste my time feeling sorry for him.

          • Day Man

            Clearly Massallah you are a learned educated man with common sense Alhamdliah. Only Allah knows what drove him to believe and act upon whatever he believed in. Maybe it was something about being in Somila terrible conditions triggered something…Only Allah knows. Yes there are people who deserve more tears than him but brother I’m not sure if you are aware but I knew him from the very day he came to Corvallis. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=19706486 Mo-Kim Mohammad Almoussaoui

            all the people who are writing under aliases because they fear the munafiqoun more than their lord and the day of reckoning.  Everyone always trying to judge one another, what a pitty when only allah can judge. only allah knows who might have been right or wrong and who will enter paradise 

          • Anonymous

            The Night Man has to disagree with you Day Man. You may be the champion of the sun and a master of karate and friendship for everyone, but mark my word… The Night Man cometh.

          • Foo

            “killing civilians”… why make a distinction.  as if killing any soldier is ok.  some causes are worth fighting for.  an example (that affirms godwins law, sorry): killing a nazi in wwii vs. killing an allied soldier.  these are not equivalent even though the nazi probably had a family, a child, hope, morals.  but fighting for the wrong side in a war.  why not take a stand? 

            buriedinlit: i love that you are standing up, unlike any other in this thread i must sadly point out, for the madness and unequivocal wrong of deciding to specifically blow up families to make a point.  send the fbi, the cia, twenty mullahs to tell me to do this and i would not.  i am not saying this man was an evil mastermind, maybe he was stupid and easily influenced.  but as such his willingness to harm others justifies his removal from society.  but brother do you even go far enough when you make the distinction about civilians.  if it was a military ceremony around a tree?  if it was military families?  or soldiers? or just new recruits? or generals?  or the high command?  where do you draw the line.  you have only drawn it to protect civilians.  perhaps you want the destruction of the protectors of those civilians.  can’t tell from here.  and if the protectors lose, then who protects the civilians?  in the end do you want something different or do you want different means?

          • http://twitter.com/seanr1978 Sean Robertson

            In his defense, I read his posts to mean civilians in the sense of those not directly in combat with this particular individual.  In other words, what MoMo was accused of planning was not an act of self defense.  I don’t think Buriedinit was referring to all non-military personnel as a class in opposition to all military personnel.

  • http://www.amanali.net Aman Ali

    Guys, you are all making fantastic points! Regardless of how you feel about whether or not he is fully responsible or was simply set up, he was still a human being that was friends to many people. And what we were trying to do with the post was talk about yes his actions didnt cause physical harm to anyone (alhamdulillah), but there was a lot of emotional damage that was done to his friends. And that I dont think is really talked about much, the emotional pain from terrorism

  • Billy Mays

    I would have liked our community to have been recognized by something or someone other than an Individual who rarely showed up to the Mousque to begin with. Amazing Crew of reporters/men massallah. I pray they’ll be treated as well or even better than we have treated them in their future stops. 

  • Bayann

    Ok uhm…..30 mosques in 30 days and this article is about some kid who attempted to bomb a christmas tree in Portland more than 6 months ago? Where’s the article about the masjid? Corvallis has the best masjid in Oregon and this article happens to be NOTHING about the masjid. Lost respect, honestly.

  • Anonymous

    I wake up in da mornin n i drank my tea

    2 minute later a ma phone was ringing

    I jist recieved a coll from overseas

    My father been tellin me keep ya mind right

    Oh oh Bangs keep ya mind right

    Untill da end of life keep ya mind right

    Oh oh Bangs keep ya mind right

    Untill da end of life keep ya mind right

    When I was 6 my life was da best

    Now im 19 my life is getting worse

    I move from Sudan just to follow my dream

    people a still dey no wanna let me doing ma ting

    when im on da street i feel kind of homeless

    when im in da street you i feel like an aress

    but some people dey no want to see me up on tope

    whos dos people? obcours dey haytirs

    i feel like i never move on when you allwis get me wrong

    and dats for sho YEEEEEEEAHHHH!

    I wake up in da mornin n i drank my tea

    2 minute later a ma phone was ringing

    I jist recieved a coll from overseas

    My father been tellin me keep ya mind right

    Oh oh Bangs keep ya mind right

    Untill da end of life keep ya mind right

    Oh oh Bangs keep ya mind right

    Untill da end of life keep ya mind right

    My gill she gimme a coll

    she sayd she wanna see me

    I didnt come on time cause i was a bit beezy

    da next day i saw her

    she feel kind of sadness

    gills and evryting watcha got in ya mind

    and da never beeleeve anyting that you say

    forget about da gills another dey to be alone

    to go through what i have done in my life

    gills is a problem

    when you go to dem da always talk rude

    and when you tryin to be bed dere tryin to feel sed

    im tryin a keep ma mind right!

    I wake up in da mornin n i drank my tea

    2 minute later a ma phone was ringing

    I jist recieved a coll from overseas

    My father been tellin me keep ya mind right

    Oh oh Bangs keep ya mind right

    Untill da end of life keep ya mind right

    Oh oh Bangs keep ya mind right

    Untill da end of life keep ya mind right

    back in da deys people dey dont know me

    now im on tope da wanna be my homie

    when im tryin to do wara wan

    gills call me in da wrong tum

    im tryin to keep ma mind right

    to show da wourd what i have done

    but wen a go outside

    people telling me da ting dat you did is wrong

    i feel like i never move on

    im not too old to cry

    i just don have a tears to dry ma eyes

    sometum i feel sad when um tryin to do someting an its too late

    I wake up in da mornin n i drank my tea

    2 minute later a ma phone was ringing

    I jist recieved a coll from overseas

    My father been tellin me keep ya mind right

    Oh oh Bangs keep ya mind right

    Untill da end of life keep ya mind right

    Oh oh Bangs keep ya mind right

    Untill da end of life keep ya mind right

    YEEEEEEEAHHHH!

    ya boi Bangs

    um tryin to keep ma mind right

    you na mean

    cose wharever i start wit it ah have to finish wit it untill da end of life

    and its not easy

    but um still tryin to keep ma mind right

    let da hitters hate

    but one day if da step in da wrong line

    dey never go beck

    and dats whara say

    um tryin a keep ma mind right

    you keep ya mind right

    um tryin a keep ma mind right

    your keep ya mind right!

  • JMashouf

    great post bro.

  • JMashouf

    great post bro.

  • Rashed

    This is a really interesting post — rarely do we get to hear from the people who used to know someone now considered infamous back when he was just a regular person. I feel sorry for Mohamed and hope that any young Muslims who are tempted to do something foolish like this in the future will stop and think about where their actions could lead not just their victims and themselves, but also those they love.

  • Anonymous

    Nekst time you are in Corvalles stop by Crystals Cafe, we are KING OF FALAFEL! Just you know come in and say “HABBY HOUR” to recieve 5% discount off your meal! We are voted best #1 halal restaurant in the whole Corvalles! Just remember next time you cant find a shawarma sandwich made with the wholist freshist materials anywhere else! So come on to Crystals Cafe and have good time!

    • http://twitter.com/seanr1978 Sean Robertson

      Doubt I’ll ever be in Corvalles, but I swear by the halal carts in Manhattan.  Lamb over rice for $5 cannot be beaten. ;-)

  • Anonymous

    I would of liked to see more about community related topics, for example an article on how big the worm (snake) in Kysse Siala’s pants is. Apparently Kysee Siala is banned from using computers, because his worm is classified as a threat to national security. They fear that if Kysse’s worm makes its way into one computer it will spread like a pandemic causing a sort of like Kysse2k incident that they fear could have some sort of mezmerizing affect on a gender of the human species. In fact, Kysse’s worm is so large a trojan horse cannot compete with it, nor can a Ron Jeremy since it makes a Ron Jeremy look like a needle.

  • Ntilla

    Dear MoMo’s friends: Thank you for sharing your letters with all of us. It’s a betrayal that I can only imagine. You shed some valuable light on how it might feel. I appreciate that you condemn your friend’s decisions, but show forgiveness and patience towards him. Peace to all of you.

    (Thanks to Bassam, too.)

  • nasnas27

    Hayya alel-salah :)

  • Elyas

    ATTENTION! ATTENTION! Regarding the Catasrophic Famine in Somalia:Brothers and Sisters, we are very fortunate to have all the food one needs living in this prosperous countries. We have plenty of water that we need. We waste food on a dialy basis and we also waste unnecessary water on daily basis as well…. In the meantime there are people in Muslim Somalia who are dying of lack of food and water. Does it mean that Allah favors us and loves us more than them? Absolutely not. It is a test that Allah is testing to see whether we would  have mercy in our hearts to help our fellow human beings in dire situations who are dying because of natural/unnatural calamaty. As been told in the Quran, to those who are given more they will have more to be accountable for on the day of judgement. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, do not sit around on the sidelines as your fellow Muslims are dying in Somalia. One single dollar will go a long way, so please donate to this Islamic Relief Agency based in Canada called Human Concern. Their website is …. humanconcern.org ..They are taking donations online with your credit card or if you have a paypal..all it takes is 2 minute to complete..Once you enter the website..click on the Urgent Appeal-Somalia..Just read carefuly from there on..They will give you a receipt that you can later use for tax exemption…You can also see pictures of what your money is doing…Btw, the money is Canadian dollars which means perhaps the American dollar is stronger today(but I doubt it lool) ..Please help in this blessed month..If you got any question ..reply to this message below… Jazakalah

  • Turk

    Telling the untold stories from our community~ love it.

  • Wajiha

    This was so deep. I was hoping you guys would just go to the masjid in Portland and see how the masjid goers argue about whether the chicken being served is local or not. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2LBICPEK6w

  • Anonymous

    This story reminds me of “Dirty ******,” They are Austrian band. They do terrible things, they take a crucifix, they do a shiesse in a mold of a crucifix, they freeze it, and then on stage they put it up zer asha. I heard that Marlyn Manson did something like this. He did, I dont know if a shiesse, but I think he did shpoonkin in the mold of a crucifix and drank it and then spat it into and kissed actually the devil on stage and let him sucks the shpoonkin from his mouth. The devil can make even the simplest of men do terrible things, we must learn to see the truth in religion and not be blinded by hate and teachings that have veered from the true meaning of islam.

    • http://profiles.google.com/rcmc82 Ryan McLaughlin

      You keep living in fear of boogiemen and the rest of us, rational people, will keep the world running.

    • http://twitter.com/seanr1978 Sean Robertson

      This might be the funniest post I’ve read online in several years if only for all the hilarious (some faux?) Austrian crossover words.  ROFL.

  • Pingback: Letters to a friend: Convicted terrorist’s former friends asked, “what would you say to him now?” | It's like, Really?

  • http://profiles.google.com/rcmc82 Ryan McLaughlin

    Religion is a truly dangerous institution. Whether you’re a Catholic, Muslin, Christian, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, etc. I understand people’s basic need to think there is something after death, but we’re all just fooling ourselves with these outdated doctrines and dogma. 

    Modern science has pretty much proven all religions to be wrong. There is no scientific support for a “creator” nor support for an after life. How people can cling so vehemently to their “faiths” is both repulsive and frustrating to me. Wake up. You’re living a lie. The sooner you realize this, the sooner we can unit the people of Earth as one. Until then, your petty differences caused by your fictional religions will continue to tear this world apart.

    There is no higher power. We are the net result of billions of probabilities.

    • Josh Burns

      Let’s say we erase all religion overnight. Or we fast forward 1000 years into the future to a scienc-y utopia where there are no churches, mosques or holy books. 

      Are you seriously so naive as to think that people won’t find deep seated reasons to divide society into factions that are so sold on their ideas that they’ll kill and die for them?

      Welcome to Earth man. We’re humans. We kill everything for silly reasons. We can pretend that the world would be shiny and happy without religion, but I think you know as well as I do that we’ll just end up killing each other over science, or ideas, or water.

      Wether or not there’s a higher power has absolutely nothing to do with the capacity in the human spirit to cause chaos, war, and suffering.

      Good luck uniting the world. You probably don’t want to hear this but it would probably be easiest for you if you could come up with a new improved God to give / force on everyone.

      • Anonymous

        You gotta admit…it wouldn’t be a bad start.

      • Juan Perez

        go to denmark.

      • http://singedrac.livejournal.com Singe

        Religion shouldn’t be discarded because doing so would eliminate sectarian violence (clearly it won’t), but because it’s irrational and delusional.

    • Michael

      As a member of the scientific community, one thing I have learned is that a lack of evidence is not evidence of lacking. If you write tried to publish a paper disproving a theory simply because you can’t prove it yourself, you would be laughed at. Besides, we call it faith because it is just that, believing in something regardless of whether or not we can prove it really exists. 

      Honestly, I find your closed-minded, self centered attitude and belief that your way of life is the only “right” way  to be both repulsive and frustrating. How can you be so arrogant as to believe that you alone can answer one of humanity’s oldest questions? Why dont you wake up and realize that religious causes, regardless of the deity(s) involved, have united humanity since the dawn of recorded history.

      • http://twitter.com/seanr1978 Sean Robertson

        At the same time, however, why should people be rewarded for professing faith in something that cannot be proven.  Either you can back it up or you cannot.  Prove your hypotheses or shut the h**l up.  I’m fine if you want to believe in the flying spaghetti monster if that’s your choice, but I’m sure as h**l not going to laud you for it in public.  That, sadly, is very much what our media does to Christians in particular and a certain subsection of other believers (believe me, they rarely if ever support Islam or Native American or pagan religions similarly) on a daily basis.  It wasn’t so long ago that JFK had to distance himself from his religion in order to get elected, now it’s the opposite.  WTFH? You think Jefferson, a mere deist could get elected today?  Now you’re ostracized for being an agnostic, let alone an atheist?  I am the former more than the latter, but I still say bulls**t to the whole affair.  F**k organized religion.  The world would be FAR better off without it, even if that is only one percent of our problem.

        • Michael

          I honestly don’t believe that organized religion is a bad thing. Yes, its wrong to single each other out for believing in something different, or nothing at all, but that’s the fault of the believers (or non believers), not the belief. My point was not take a side, but to maybe level the playing field. 
          The problem isn’t the religion itself, but the people who choose to exploit it. How often do the masterminds themselves get caught in the line of fire when religion is involved? This kid, Mohamad, could just as easily have been convinced to build something good for his community. He is young, and looking for a cause for which to fight. If it wasn’t this, for all we know he could have been an excellent candidate for the army, and maybe it would have done some good for him.

      • Anonymous

        Your reply started off well but ended badly.  First off, your entire second paragraph is BS because people of religion have the same attitude that you accuse Ryan of having.  Christians, Muslims, Jews all think that “…your way of life of the only ‘right’ way…”  The same way that Christians, Muslims and Jew all think that they “…alone can answer on of humanity’s oldest questions.”  And while I might agree that religious “causes” (not sure what a cause would be.  Maybe you meant to say religious beliefs?) have united people throughout history, it hasn’t done much for humanity as whole.  In fact, it’s done quite a bit of damage to humanity.  It divides us into groups while enforcing the idea that those other groups beliefs are wrong.  In fact here are a couple of examples of how religion has been uniting humanity:  the Romans killed many Christians during (and before) The Great Persecution, the Aztec’s killed about 20,000 people a year to appease their gods, Christians killed millions during a series of Inquisitions from 1184 to 1230, in India the Thuggee sect sacrificed approximately 20,000 people a year from sometime in the 1500′s until 1840 and were estimated to have caused the death of nearly 2 million people, and lets not forget the Islamic jihads which have been going on for 12 centuries and have resulted in the death of millions.  And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.  Those numbers don’t take into account the number of people who have been beaten, raped, maimed, burned or otherwise harmed in the name of religion.  
        So, you’ll understand my confusion when you accuse others of arrogance when you spout the same vile and hate-filled propaganda that is named “religion”.
        To note; I don’t really care what people want to believe or what god(s) you want to worship.  I DO have an issue when that belief becomes public policy or your belief harms people.  Keep your religion (or lack of) to yourself, do it on your own time, and stop hating others because they don’t believe the same thing that you do.

        • Michael

          I admit I did get carried away, and I have no evidence to back up that I feel it has done more good than bad. I also wholeheartedly agree that this sort of thing is best kept to one’s self. Still, I think that its not the religion that is to blame, but rather the people who choose to exploit it. As at least one poster has pointed out already, if it wasn’t religion, then we would probably find some other cause to fight about (albeit maybe less fanatically). And as for my terrible ending to my argument, that was just be being a jerk trying rewrite his post from the other side, i’m honestly not repulsed or frustrated by his opinions, just his little tantrum. 

  • John Norris

    An amazing post on so many levels, thank you all for sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dabigrich Richie Martin

    Belief in religion is truly man succumbing to pure emotion and denouncing his ability to think. The most basic tenant of religion is faith, or belief with evidence. For man to sacrifice his ability to be a rational individual is both dishonorable and dangerous. 

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  • turboman

    Wow, what would I say to a friend after this?

    Dear Terrorist,

    You’re the lowest form of scum on the planet. Your god has forsaken you. Had I known what you had planned to do, I would have killed you myself without hesitation.

    • Michael

      Something is fundamentally wrong with you, and you honestly should be separated from the rest of society. When you take out religion and motivation, you are far more dangerous than this kid could have ever been. You don’t even need someone to work their way into your head, all you need is a target. I hope to never meet you in the street, the last thing I want is to be the target of your blind aggression.

  • Guest.

    I’m not reading any of the comments cos I find comment sections generally filled with idiots and people who want to fight each other. I just want to say I found this very powerful. I’m a teacher and I may share this with my middle schoolers. God/Allah (they are the same, right?!!) bless whoever made this. I hope it comforts that boy, who is still a young person who is all alone and probably scared, even if he made some bad choices. 

  • Guest.

    Read about half of the comments now–very intelligent discussion, and way more thoughtful than any comments I’ve read attached to any news story EVER…more props to the maker of this site. Great insights from most commenters. 

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  • Anonymous

    In a matter of months this guy is going to become a ghost. Alot of people is well skreptical about ghosts. But me know for a fact that dey hactually exist. In fact me uncle Jamals ouse is definatly haunted. Cause one time me stayed around dere and late at night me heard a knockin on da door, footsteps on da staircase, a sound of a strange mans voice, and then a few minutes latah a bangin noise, and a voice of a man whimperin “uuuuuuhhhh uuuuhhhhhh”. Me found da whole experience very unsettlin, so da next morning me auksd me uncle Jamal about it and him told me dat da ouse was haunted about 3 or 4 times a week. Da next time me was around dere, me came face to face with one of da ghosts. It was da figure of a fully grown man with a massive tashe. It was soo lifelike. And it had a smell about it, of what me can only describe as, spunk.

  • Emily

    It’s funny that one of them quoted (roughly) Nietzsche 

  • a.m.

    a really interesting post! would’ve like to learn more about how the incident affected the community as a whole.  (see http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/08/mosque-corvallis-mohamed-osman-mohamud)  

  • nsk

    Loved that last letter by Ali.. :)

  • nsk

    Loved that last letter by Ali.. :)


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