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After enjoying their city’s Christmas tree lighting, Portland, Oregon, residents felt a twinge of shock and then a rush of gratitude on Saturday when they learned that law officers foiled a plot to set off a bomb in a state the suspect says “nobody ever thinks about.”

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, was seized in connection with a plan to detonate what he believed to be a vehicle bomb at the ceremony on Friday night, the Justice Department announced.

Mohamud was whisked away by the FBI and Portland Police Bureau after he attempted to detonate what he believed was an explosives-laden van parked near the tree-lighting ceremony in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Justice Department said in a written statement.

But the bomb turned out to be fake, thanks to an undercover operation designed to undermine the plotter. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said “the materials were not explosive,” and officials said the public was never in danger from the mock device.

A resident of Corvallis, Oregon, and a student at Oregon State University, Mohamud — who now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine — was arrested on suspicion of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, the FBI said. He will make his initial appearance in federal court in Portland on Monday, the Justice Department said.

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Article courtesy cnn.com