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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘Christmas Tree Bomber’|Convicted for Bomb Plot

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A federal jury on Thursday convicted the would-be "Christmas tree bomber," Mohamed Mohamud, of attempting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction.

Mohamud faces up to life in prison.

Jurors reached their verdict after several hours of deliberation.

Public defenders for Mohamud, 21, said they will appeal. They argued throughout the two-week trial that the FBI entrapped Mohamud when he was 19, and unable to carry out the terror plot without help of the FBI agents who built the fake bomb for him.

Mohamud tried to set off the fake bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, the day after Thanksgiving 2010. His undercover FBI "accomplices" arrested him after he used a cell phone to try to set off the explosion.

Mohamud had worked for months alongside two undercover FBI agents, who posed as al-Qaeda recruiters, and built the fake bomb inside a van.

Mohamud's public defenders had a tough case to sell. Terrorism defendants charged after sting operations have seldom been able to persuade juries that they were entrapped.

U.S. District Judge Garr King instructed the jury Wednesday that to be cleared because of entrapment, Mohamud had to show that he was not predisposed to commit a terrorist act, or that he was induced into it by the FBI.

The jury was not persuaded. They returned the guilty verdict at a few minutes past 3 p.m.

Mohamud did not display any emotion as he was led back to his holding cell, but smiled and shook hands with his attorneys, as he did throughout his trial when entering and leaving the courtroom.

Mohamud's attended throughout most of the trial, but were not there when the verdict was announced.

Public defender Steve Sady said he was disappointed by the verdict.

"We obviously thought he was entrapped," Sady said, on the ground floor of the Portland Federal Courthouse.

Sady said he hoped Judge King would consider mitigating factors in sentencing.

Greg Fowler of the Portland FBI thanked the jurors for "deciding the fate of a young man while balancing the needs for safety and justice."

"Mr. Mohamud made a series of choices over a period of several years - choices that were leading him down a path that would have ended in violence," Fowler said in a statement. "His actions showed little regard for the rights and responsibilities that come with being an American or respect for the lives that he was prepared to take."

Judge King set sentencing for May 15.

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