Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 13: The Mohamud Case Goes to the Jury

The jury is now considering whether Mohamed Mohamud was enticed and entrapped into pulling off an act of homegrown terrorism or whether, as his attorney has stated, the FBI foiled its own plot. Jury deliberations began Wednesday afternoon after both sides gave their closing arguments.
At Oregon State University
Angry and Radicalized

Mohamud is the man who twice pushed in the numbers on a Nokia cellphone to detonate a bomb that would have blown up two square blocks of downtown Portland--in the target he picked: Portland Pioneer Square at the lighting of "The Tree," as the city calls it, to kick off the holiday season. Had the bomb been real, thousands of children and others would have been vaporized in the blast.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Ethan Knight, gave an overview of the case in a time line to show jurors that Mohamud was radicalized and willing to commit an act of violent jihad well before the FBI ever got involved.

The defense argued Mo Mo was simply a talker not a doer and was enticed into pulling off the murderous plot only because the FBI gave him the opportunity.

Al Shabaab (Al Qaeda)
In Mogadishu
Mohamud was already contacting Al Qaeda bad actors before the FBI got there. He'd already written articles for Samir Khan's magazine, "Jihad Recollections." He was planning to make a run to Yemen for terror training and talked to a friend in Seattle who Mo Mo said was involved with Al Shabaab--the Al Qaeda affiliate responsible for the murderous attack on U.S. troops in the Black Hawk Down incident in Mogadishu (the family's home town) in 1993. Furthermore, Mohamud's parents were worried enough about their son's radicalization that THEY called the FBI hoping to thwart any of his plans. See my previous posts about this.

The FBI agents testified they gave Mohamud options to get out. They told him he could chart another path, praying to Allah, for instance, to get into the global jihad. Or giving money to the cause. At every turn, Mohamud chose to go forward with plans to blow people up. In fact the FBI had to dial him back a little. They had to talk Mohamud out of becoming a martyr and driving the bomb laden vehicle INTO the crowd for maximum effect. 
Mohamud Exchanged 150
Emails With Samir Khan and Wrote for
His Magazine Jihad Recollections

At every turn Mo Mo continued forward with the plan for violence. Agents told him to find the target, allowed him to detonate a bomb in a desolate coast range location to give him an idea of the magnitude of what he was doing. They reminded him that children would be at the tree lighting. They told him the sight would be tough to stomach. And he continued with the plan. The only time he showed emotion was when he cried in front of FBI agents lamenting a  friend who had already gone to fight and he wasn't able to go. 


Mohamud Kept in Contact
with Terrorist Amro Alali
This connection alarmed
FBI officials
In closing arguments yesterday, the prosecutor told jurors that Mohamud assumed the undercover FBI agents were Al Qaeda because that's who he he'd already been talking to via email and terrorist chat rooms and forums. Mohamud even told the nurse at the jail the day after he was arrested and on suicide watch that 'the Al Qaeda gave him purpose and something to do'. 

The defense claimed that these moves were the acts of a vulnerable and impressionable kid who would do as he was told or encouraged. They claimed there was no real way out for Mohamud.

I'm not sure what this Portland jury of nine women and six men will do, but I ain't buying it.

After all, what would it take to get you to murder ONE person? Could someone talk you into that? Could they talk you into murdering THOUSANDS? What words would it take to get you to do that?
Mohamed Mohamud in First Grade
in Portland
I've sat through many hours of testimony in the last two weeks on this trial. I feel great sympathy for his parents who desperately tried to keep their son on the straight and narrow. Parents have a tough enough time as it is when we try to guide our kids. Ideally it's supposed to be like bowling with kiddie bumpers. We throw the ball as ably as we can and it bounces off one side, then the other until at some point it arrives at the right place. Success. 



 But not so in Mo Mo's case. The Osmans had even harder problems. This family, who ironically left Mogadishu to get away from the radical extremists of Al Shabaab and their ideological kindred in Somalia's civil war, now found out their son was one of them. They thought they had talked him out of it. By the time they called the FBI for help--Mohamud was already under surveillance for his terrorist proclivities. It was too late. He had already made his path.



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