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FBI: alleged Christmas tree bomber thought 9/11 'was awesome'

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who is accused of plotting to bomb a Portland, Ore., Christmas tree lighting ceremony, was not entrapped by FBI agents, says US Attorney General Eric Holder.

By Staff writer / November 29, 2010

US Attorney General Eric Holder dismissed speculation that FBI agents entrapped Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who has been indicted by a grand jury on one terrorism-related count. Here Holder speaks at the Justice Department in Washington Nov. 23.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP/file

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Washington

Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday dismissed questions that FBI agents may have used illegal entrapment to build its case against a Somali-American teenager accused of plotting to detonate a car bomb at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore., last Friday.

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In comments to reporters, the attorney general said he’d been monitoring the investigation from the start. “I am confident that there is no entrapment here and no entrapment claim will be found to be successful,” he said.

The comments came as 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud of Corvallis, Ore., made his first appearance in federal court in Portland. He pleaded not guilty to a grand jury indictment returned earlier Monday.

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The one-count indictment charges Mr. Mohamud with knowingly attempting to use a “weapon of mass destruction” against targets within the US. The charge carries a potential life sentence.

The indictment stems from a 15-month undercover investigation in which federal agents posed as Islamic militants willing to conduct indiscriminate terror attacks within the US.

Under surveillance since 2009

According to court documents, the surveillance began in August 2009. Federal agents had apparently identified Mohamud as a potential Al Qaeda recruit by monitoring e-mail between Mohamud and an unidentified individual in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkwa Province, previously known as the Northwest Frontier Province.

The contact in Pakistan suggested that Mohamud get in touch with a second militant. Mohamud used the wrong e-mail address when trying to contact the second militant but was apparently unaware of his mistake. That allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to contact Mohamud, posing as that second Al Qaeda operative – pretending the failed e-mail had reached its recipient.

Between July 2010 and Nov. 26, the undercover agents met eight times with Mohamud to plan a car bomb attack in downtown Portland.

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