The wannabe Oregon Christmas tree bomber was doted on by his family but embraced militant Islam not long after his parents split up, neighbors said.So he turned extremist at 18, but begand thinking of holy war at 15? Which is it?
"He was a quiet kid, but with his folks splitting up, who knows?" Adam Napier, who lived next door to Mohamed Osman Mohamud for years, told The Oregonian newspaper.
Mohamud's family moved to Beaverton, Ore., when he was just 5 and were friendly and modern.
Mariam Barre did not wear a hijab and her husband, Osman Barre, reportedly worked as an engineer for Intel. Mohamud appeared to particularly close to his mother, neighbors said.
"She always talked so good about him. He was just a good kid," said Adam Napier's mother, Stephanie.
In 2009, Mohamud parents split up, not long after he turned 18, the paper said.
Omar Jamal, first secretary to the Somali Mission to the United Nations, told KPTV that Mohamud's father had remarried a woman in Minneapolis, which has a large Somali population and has been a hotbed for jihadist recruitment.
Later in 2009, Mohamud began communicating with jihadists abroad, and wrote articles for a website called "Jihad Recollections," authorities said.
Earlier this year, Mohamud came to the attention of federal agents who set up an elaborate sting.
Posing as like-minded terrorists, they helped Mohamud plot to detonate a powerful bomb at a Portland Christmas tree lighting ceremony Friday.
The plot ended when Mohamud, 19, a naturalized U.S. citizen, tried to set off a dummy bomb and was arrested, kicking and screaming, "Allahu akbar!"
Many who knew Mohamud said he seemed like a normal kid who did well in school and loved basketball.
"He was a really smart kid. He always got good grades. He was a part of a lot of good things, so it's amazing he would do that," elementary school pal Gavin Lipscomb told The Oregonian.
"It never seemed like he had any hatred," Lipscomb said.
But Mohamud told agents that he began thinking about holy war at age 15, when he prayed for guidance "about whether I should ... go, you know, and make jihad in a different country or to make like an operation here."
Meanwhile, a fire broke out at the mosque Mohamud attended. Stand by for the requisite outrage from the terror co-conspirators at CAIR.