Would-Be Terrorist a 'Great Kid,' but Lately Changed

Friends, neighbors talk about Mohamed Osman Mohamud
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2010 8:19 AM CST
This image released Nov. 27, 2010 by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office shows Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19.   (AP Photo/Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – Who is Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the Somali-born Oregon teen accused of attempted terrorism? Friends and neighbors recall him as "a great kid," a well-adjusted engineering student who got good grades, liked girls, played basketball, and was obsessed with the Portland Trailblazers. But recently he dropped out of Oregon State University and stopped going to mosque, sources tell the New York Times. "He seemed to be in a state of confusion,” says the imam at his mosque. “He would say things that weren’t true. ‘I’m going to go get married,’ for example. But he wasn’t getting married.”

Even so, friends can't believe the turn Mohamud's life took. “When you think of someone doing what he did, you think of some crazy kind of guy,” says a fellow student. “He wasn’t like that. He was just like everybody else.” The Mohamud family, which has lived in the Portland area a long time, was quiet but friendly, says a neighbor; over the past year, however, Mohamud's parents separated, causing tension. His parents eventually reported their son's newly radical views to law enforcement, sources say. (Click here to hear from someone who isn't so sure Mohamud was all that dangerous.)

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