Portland tree bomb plotter faces life

Portland tree bomb plotter faces life

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by Associated Press and KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 7:19 AM

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PORTLAND -- A jury on Thursday found Mohamed Osman Mohamud guilty in the 2010 plot to bomb Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square during a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Then-19-year-old Mohamud tried to blow up a van he believed was loaded with explosives at the crowded ceremony. But the bomb was an elaborate fake supplied by FBI agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.

Background: Portland tree lighting bomb plot

Mohamud showed no emotion as the verdict was read. His sentencing was set for May 14 and he faces a maximum term of life in prison. Defense attorneys have already announced plans to appeal.

"We are disappointed in the verdict. We are going to see whatever remedies there are for Mohamud. There are many factors that we are hopeful the court will consider at sentencing and we continue to be as forward-looking and hopeful as he has been," said Mohamud's lawyer, Steve Sady.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a statement immediately following the verdict thanking jurors for the "heavy burden" they faced in their deliberations.

"Mr. Mohamud made a series of choices over a period of several years - choices that were leading him down a path that would have ended in violence. His actions showed little regard for the rights and responsibilities that come with being an American or respect for the lives that he was prepared to take," the statement from Special Agent Greg Fowler said.

"Indeed, in this country everyone has a right to live, work and worship freely and without fear. FBI employees – in Oregon and around the world – find strength in preserving and protecting these core values." More: Read entire FBI statement

The jury began deliberating Wednesday afternoon after closing arguments. The six men and six women reached their verdict Thursday afternoon. Mohamud was found guilty on one count of Attempted Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

The jurors asked the judge during deliberations for clarity on entrapment, on a portion of a charge, and a  concern about a reporter following a juror's twitter account.

More: Jury questions to the judge in the Mohamud trial (pdf)

Prosecutors said in closing arguments that Mohamud was predisposed to terrorism when he was 15 years old, the age he told undercover agents he began to think about committing violent jihad.

FBI: Mohamud eager to bomb United States

In the defense closing statements, Mohamud's attorneys said he was a confused young man.

"This is not somebody sitting around thinking about blowing up Portland," Sady told the jury. "The FBI went too far."

Witness: FBI manipulated bomb blot suspect

Prosecutors brought out the undercover FBI agents whom Mohamud thought were his jihadi co-conspirators. They each testified that Mohamud, 18 years old when they met him, conceived of and helped carry out the bomb plot.

More: Mohamud trial witness and exhibit list (pdf)

His defense team said Mohamud couldn't have thought of the plan. He even talked openly about violent jihad and privately expressed glee at 9/11, they said, but he had neither the will nor the means to commit terrorism.

Mohamud's age makes him among the youngest ever targeted by post-9/11 stings carried out by the FBI on suspected terrorists. He is now 21.

His family was not present during the reading of the verdict Thursday. Mohamud shook hands with his attorneys, thanked them and then was escorted out of the room.

"This case has been a difficult case for the city of Portland. It's been a particularly difficult case for Mohamed Mohamud's community, for his family, for the Somali community," said Amanda Marshall, U.S. Attorney for Oregon. "We are hopeful that this will bring closure and healing to all of us here in Portland."

More: Who is bomb suspect Mohamed Mohamud?

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KGW Reporter Kyle Iboshi contributed to this report.

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