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.
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In an apparent effort to address potential concerns about entrapment, an undercover agent asked Mohamud what he was willing to do for the Islamic cause. According to court documents, the agent offered five options from praying five times a day, to raising money, to carrying out a suicide mission.Skip to next paragraph
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Mohamud told the undercover agent that he wanted to become “operational.” But he added that he did not know how and would need training.
All eight of the undercover meetings were recorded and/or videotaped. But, according to court documents, the audio recorder malfunctioned during that first meeting.
To defeat an entrapment claim, prosecutors must be able to show that Mohamud was willing to engage in the illegal conduct without the support and encouragement of the undercover agents.
An agent repeatedly asked Mohamud what he thought about the unfolding bomb plot and what was in his heart. The agent stressed that there would be children at the bomb site.
“That’s what I’m looking for,” Mohamud is quoted in court documents as telling the agent.
“For kids?” the agent asked.
“Just a huge mass … to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays,” he answered.
A second undercover agent told Mohamud that he “loved his idea” of bombing the Christmas tree ceremony.
At one point Mohamud told the agents he was not worried about looking at the carnage after the blast. “Do you remember when 9/11 happened when those people were jumping from skyscrapers.… I thought that was awesome,” the teen told the agents, according to court documents.
He added: “I want whoever is attending that [Christmas tree] event to leave … either dead or injured.”
Feds close in
In addition to discussing the plot, the agents directed Mohamud to purchase what they said would be components of the bomb. He spent roughly $110 of FBI money at a Radio Shack.
Mohamud was also given $2,700 to rent an apartment to assist in his escape from the US after the bombing.
The agents also arranged for Mohamud to engage in a dry run on detonation of the bomb. They took him to a remote location and told him to dial a cell phone number. Explosive experts staged an explosion to give Mohamud the feeling that he could actually detonate the car bomb.
Agents carried the plot all the way to streets of Portland with a fake bomb in a van, parked at a location selected by Mohamud. After he used the cell phone to attempt to detonate what he believed was a bomb, agents placed him under arrest.
Attorney General Holder said Mohamud revealed his state of mind when he was told that children would be among the victims. “You saw his response,” Holder said.
Holder defended the undercover operation. “These investigations are extremely important,” he said. “It is part of a forward-leaning way in which the Justice Department, the FBI, our law enforcement partners at the state and local level are trying to find people who are bound and determined to harm Americans and American interests around the world.”