Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mo Mo Trial Day 5: "The Tree is the Bait for the Fish"

Government prosecutors spent another day in a sealed courtroom Wednesday showing FBI undercover video of Mohamed Mohamud taking more control over the operation to blow up thousands of people at Portland's Pioneer Square on November 26th 2010. It was an effort to neutralize the defense's claim that Mo Mo was entrapped into the terrorist plot. 

Video showed Mohamud getting excited at the "victory" of "annihilat[ing]" the people and enjoying the irony that they would gather on the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, to see the tree lighting ceremony, noting, 
"The tree is the bait for the fish."
Video showed Mohamud planning the op, indeed briefing the undercover agents, Hussein and Youssef, on parking, rendezvous points, disguises he'd come up with and purchased (they were  to be City of Portland Public Works or Water Bureau workers), and his plans to go to Yemen after the bombing. FBI agents asked him to come up with a pseudonym for his phony passport. Beau Coleman was the name he chose.

Undercover agents took Mohamud on a dry run to the coast range to blow up a smaller backpack bomb. The idea was to shake him up a little and give Mohamud an "out" before doing the big op in downtown Portland. I wasn't there for this testimony on Wednesday, but here's how the Oregonian describes it,

Out of sight, FBI agents had snatched up the pack and switched the dummy bomb loaded inside with a real one. After a few failed attempts to dial the number that would ignite the bomb, Mohamud's phone rang through.
A loud boom rocked the hillside.
"How do you feel?" Hussein asked Mohamud.
"I feel good, Allahu Akbar (praise be to God)," Mohamud said.
Hussein told Mohamud that if he were going to back out, this would be the time.
"This is just the motivation for me," Mohamud told him. 

On November 23rd, three days before the planned bombing, Mohamud accompanied Hussein to the storage unit to retrieve blue plastic barrels, wires and nails for the bomb. The FBI agent testified he wanted Mo Mo to feel the nails (which would act as shrapnel from the bomb) to see if he wanted to back out. 

In another video Hussein cautioned Mo Mo on the gore at the bombing site,
"Prepare yourself for what you're going to see." Mohamud answered, "I will be more happy than you are.""He had no doubt. I tried to give him an out," Hussein testified.
All this time, FBI agents say they were worried Mohamud would connect with one of his contacts overseas and become involved in a real plot. Hussein testified because of this they were worried about operational security, "...the other brothers overseas and in Seattle. We didn't want him to take action with them."

Prosecutors are trying to establish that Mohamud was radicalized way before the Feds came on the scene. 

On video Hussein asked Mohamud when he first started thinking about jihad. Mo Mo said in 2006 he began considering, "going to Somalia to join the Shabaab."

Mohamud complained that his mosque preached peace with others, but, after reading the Koran three times, he was convinced otherwise. A man by the name of Shukri studied with him. 
"We would discuss Somalia. How the Islamic Courts took over in 2006. Then he explained to me about jihad."
Mohamud said Shukri, who had since moved to Seattle, "told me he was doing stuff for Al Shabaab." 

Al Shabaab is the notorious Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia  Members are connected to the American embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Andy McCarthy explains in his book, "The Grand Jihad," how Shabaab recruits young males in American Somalian communities--especially in Minneapolis--to fight in the civil war they came to America to avoid.

The government's case against Mohamud is expected to wind up before Wednesday of next week. The jury will hear from a FBI bomb technician and the undercover FBI agents agents before the defense begins its case. Next Tuesday or Wednesday, the jury will visit the van where Mohamud and his "Al Qaeda" contacts put together the bomb. Mo Mo's attorneys say their client will not attend the visit. 

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