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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Trial Begins for Alleged|Christmas Tree Bomber

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Jury selection begins today for the alleged "Christmas tree bomber," Mohamed Mohamud, accused of plotting to bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland 2 years ago.

Mohamud, 21, was arrested in an FBI sting in November 2010 and charged with terrorism offenses.

While it is undisputed that Mohamud tried to detonate a truck full of what he thought were explosives, his public defenders claim he was groomed by undercover agents in the months before his arrest.

U.S. District Judge Garr King last week issued an order limiting witness testimony allowed at trial.

King agreed with the government that witnesses may not give opinions on entrapment, or related issues of inducement and predisposition.

King expressed concern that the legal definition of "inducement" and "predisposition" will vary from definitions used by the experts. He prohibited the experts and attorneys questioning them from using those terms.

At a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Mohamud's public defenders hinted at their strategy: to present "the total picture" of their client as someone who was not predisposed to commit an act of terrorism.

Defense attorney Steven Wax briefly referred to his client's consumption of alcohol and drugs, which are forbidden by Islam.

The attorneys also argued over the admission of a statement a tearful Mohamud made to a nurse who was evaluating him for suicide risk after his arrest.

Mohamud's attorneys expressed concern that they did not have enough information about government surveillance of Mohamud.

But Judge King said there was sufficient evidence in the record about the length and breadth of the surveillance and investigation.

Public defender Lisa Hay mentioned audio recordings of the undercover agents who worked with Mohamud discussing "glee" about the fact that their client was "done for," and wondering if the case was "sexy enough."

King asked the attorneys to resolve whatever issues they could before he ruled.

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