A Somali-born man charged with trying to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting event in Oregon was a hard-partying college student manipulated by FBI agents posing as Islamist militants, claims his lawyer on Friday.
A prosecutor in the federal trial of Mohamed Osman Mohamud countered the claim during opening statements, saying he acted on his own volition in the bomb plot, says Yahoo News.
Mohamud, a former Oregon State University student and a naturalized US citizen who was 19 when he was arrested, faces life in prison if convicted of attempting to activate a weapon of mass destruction and blow up the 2010 Christmas tree-lighting festivities at a plaza in Portland.
Mohamud was arrested after he tried to use a cell phone to trigger what he believed was a car bomb but was actually a harmless device used to set him up, an FBI affidavit filed in the case said. The fake bomb was planted in a van in a very well-populated area.
Defense attorney Stephen Sady argued on Friday that the actions of his client were not his idea:
“Mohamed was no terrorist. The FBI just went too far. They created a crime that would have never happened without them.”
According to Reuters, Mohamud, now 21, had been in jail for two years as lawyers scrutinized evidence , witnesses and court procedures. Assistant US Attorney Pamala Holsinger said Mohamud wrote items on Jihad websites and was involved in terrorist musings beforehand. She quoted some of what he wrote:
“‘A dark day is coming your way … by Allah we have soldiers scattered across the globe.”
She finished with the accusation that the “defendant is one of those soldiers.”
Tung Yin, a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School said:
“The only defense (Mohamud’s attorneys) can really mount is entrapment. We’ve seen this defense with other, similar cases and none have succeeded.”
Yin adds that Portland jury pools were seen as more liberal than in other parts of the country and more skeptical of the government, so their judgment could easily cloud the case.