The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013, 6:05 p.m.

Defense: FBI terrorism sting targeted 'a kid'

  • Mohamed Osman Mohamud is show in this file image released Nov. 27, 2010, by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

    Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

    Mohamed Osman Mohamud is show in this file image released Nov. 27, 2010, by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- For days, prosecutors in an Oregon terrorism trial have hammered jurors with recording after recording in which undercover agents gave the target of an FBI sting a series of chances to reject their advances and turn his back to terror.
The undercover agents were posing as members of al-Qaida, and supported the covert recordings by testifying that they hoped the suspect would walk away from the plot.
That narrative was challenged Thursday by celebratory debriefings -- meetings that were accidentally recorded -- in which undercover agents and their handlers said it was "fantastic" that Mohamed Mohamud asked them for explosives, a crucial step in the sting that culminated with Mohamud's arrest in November 2010.
"We are fortunate in this case that the government forgot to turn off its microphones," federal public defender Steve Wax said.
The inadvertent recordings could prove important to the defense's assertion that Mohamud was entrapped.
Wax said the attitudes that the FBI agents expressed in the recordings should be considered evidence that they were not merely assessing whether Mohamud was a threat, but rather were putting together a prosecutorial case before Mohamud did anything wrong.
"The government argues that they are imploring him not to do this," Wax said, "but when the agents are alone ... they're saying, 'Great, we're thrilled, good job.'"
Mohamud has been charged with attempting to blow up Portland's 2010 Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. The bomb was a fake provided by undercover FBI agents who met with their handlers after in-person conversations with Mohamud.
At least one of them left a recorder running, and among the agents recorded was "Hussein," the pseudonym of an undercover FBI agent posing as an al-Qaida bomb specialist who has testified over two days about his role in the sting.
Wax tried to get the recordings entered into evidence Thursday, but U.S. District Court Judge Garr King declined, saying Wax could play them only if he needed to rebut a statement from "Hussein."
That began an hours-long cat-and-mouse game, with Wax questioning "Hussein" on his intentions during the sting. The agent assented that he was happy Mohamud picked a "sexy" crime and thought the FBI had enough evidence in mid-November to make an arrest.
He didn't challenge Wax on his state of mind during the recordings, so the recordings weren't played.
"There was no sadness that a teenage American kid (met) with supposed al-Qaida figures in the way that Mohamud did?" Wax asked.
"No sadness," the agent responded.
Story tags » TrialsTerrorism

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.


HeraldNet highlights

Lofty potential for drones
Lofty potential for drones: Aircraft could be used in real estate, other businesses
A community of kindness
A community of kindness: Seahawks home a display of affection for couple's daughter
Looking for a friend?
Looking for a friend?: Animals up for adoption at the Everett shelter (7 new photos)
Super snacks
Super snacks: Best finger-food recipes to make for the big game