PORTLAND — A federal jury found an Oregon man guilty of federal terrorism charges on Thursday, rejecting the defense team’s argument that Mohamed Mohamud was entrapped or induced by a yearlong FBI sting that began to target him when he was a teenager.
Mohamud was accused of leading a plot to detonate a bomb at Portland’s 2010 Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. But the device he thought was a bomb was a fake, supplied by undercover FBI agents posing as members of al-Qaida.
Mohamud sat still, giving no visible reaction as Thursday’s verdict was read. His attorney, Steve Sady, later said an appeal was being planned for after the scheduled May 14 sentencing.
“We are disappointed with the verdict,” Sady said. “We obviously though he was entrapped.”
Prosecutors argued that Mohamud was predisposed to terrorism as early as 15 years old.
Mohamud, now 21, traded emails with an al-Qaida lieutenant later killed in a drone strike. He also told undercover agents he would pose as a college student while preparing for violent jihad.
Mohamud was never called to testify. Instead, the jurors saw thousands of exhibits and heard hours of testimony from friends, parents, undercover FBI agents and experts in counterterrorism, teenage brain development and the psychology of the Muslim world.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight told the jury earlier this week that the decision would be easy. Mohamud pressed a keypad button on a black Nokia cellphone and intended to kill people. Whatever else they might think about the methods of undercover agents or the government’s decision to investigate a teenager, the underlying decision was Mohamud’s and the motivation was hatred of the West.
Sady had argued that Mohamud wasn’t radicalized by online recruiters or friends with jihadist leanings, but rather by a Justice Department hungry for convictions that ignored every caution sign along the way. Undercover agents manipulated Mohamud’s faith and plied him with praise and the promise of a life leading other jihadis, Sady said.
Mohamud could be ordered to serve life in prison.