#MyJihad is killing thousands of Americans as they light a Christmas tree. What’s yours?
A federal jury found Mohamed Osman Mohamud guilty Thursday of attempting to detonate a bomb during Portland’s 2010 holiday tree-lighting ceremony.
The jury handed up its verdict after less than seven hours of deliberations in a trial that began Jan. 10 in a downtown courtroom just a few blocks from the scene of the crime.
Mohamud, a 21-year-old Somali American, was convicted of the only charge confronting him: trying to use a weapon of mass destruction. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison. The sentencing hearing was set for May 14.
Chief defense attorney Stephen R. Sady said he will appeal and will seek a “substantially reduced sentence” for Mohamud.
“We’re disappointed with the verdict … we obviously thought he was entrapped,” Sady said. “We will pursue what remedies are available for him.’’
Lead prosecutor Ethan D. Knight thanked the jurors. “It was a difficult case,” he said. “We appreciate the jury’s deliberation … and we agree with the verdict.”
Trial testimony showed that Mohamud had written for an online jihadi magazine, traded emails with two accused terrorists and was in contact with another man who left the Northwest to fight against coalition troops in Afghanistan.
He was under watch by the FBI for nearly a year when agents got the “green light” to target him for investigation. The bureau sent in two undercover agents posing as al-Qaida operatives to befriend Mohamud and learn his intentions.
In his first meeting with one of the agents, on July 30, 2010, he expressed interest in taking part in a car bombing. Thus began an investigative courtship and a sting that would end on the evening of Nov. 26, 2010.
On that day, agents presented Mohamud with a fake but realistic looking fertilizer bomb secretly built by an FBI bomb tech. The massive explosive choked the cargo area of the van. Mohamud grinned and declared the device “beautiful.”
Later that night, from the passenger seat of an SUV parked about 1,000 yards from Pioneer Courthouse Square, Mohamud pressed the keypad of a cell phone to detonate the device. When nothing happened, one of the undercover FBI agents told him to get out and try it again.
When he did, a team of FBI agents rushed the van and arrested him.
Mohamud’s lawyers had throughout the trial laid grounds for appellate court filings.
Among the key points: U.S. District Judge Garr M. King, who presided in the case, ruled that Mohamud’s lawyers could not know the true identity of the undercover agents who helped make the sting; he said giving up their names would put the agents’ lives at risk and potentially damage ongoing national security cases.
By not allowing the defense to know the identities of the agents, who were allowed to use their pseudonyms at trial, the defense could make no inquiries about whether the agents had been disciplined or been found to have lied in previous cases.
In court doctuments, Mohamud’s lawyers acknowledged that Mohamud pushed the cell phone buttons and joined in the plot. But they said he realizes what he did was wrong.
“He deeply regrets his actions,” they wrote, “and is humiliated and ashamed for what he said and did.”
He regrets that he didn’t kill thousands of Americans as he thought he was going to do but was instead arrested and found guilty. From a previous post:
On Nov. 4, the court documents say, Mohamud made a video in the presence of one of the undercover agents, putting on clothes he described as “Sheik Osama style:” a white robe, red and white headdress, and camouflage jacket.
He read a statement speaking of his dream of bringing “a dark day” on Americans and blaming his family for thwarting him, according to the court documents:
“To my parents who held me back from Jihad in the cause of Allah. I say to them … if you — if you make allies with the enemy, then Allah’s power … will ask you about that on the day of judgment, and nothing that you do can hold me back …”