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 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 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.