US bomb suspect discussed martyrdom: FBI

2013-01-15 12:02
Mohamed Osman Mohamud. (File, AFP)

Mohamed Osman Mohamud. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Portland - Testimony in the trial of a Somali-born man charged with trying to bomb a Christmas tree event in Oregon opened on Monday with an FBI agent saying the accused first aroused concerns by discussing martyrdom in e-mail exchanges with Islamist militants.

Miltiadis Trousas, supervisor for the FBI sting operation that led to the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud two years ago, testified that the defendant came to authorities' attention through intercepted communications with "some dangerous people overseas".

But under defence cross-examination, Trousas acknowledged that authorities lacked any evidence that Mohamud had actually sought bomb-making instructions or materials until after he first met with undercover FBI agents in July 2010.

Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen and former Oregon State University student, faces life in prison if convicted on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in a plot to blow up a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland in November 2010. He was 19 at the time.

An FBI affidavit filed in the case says Mohamud was taken into custody after he tried to use a cell phone to trigger what he believed was a car bomb but was actually a harmless device supplied by agents posing as operatives for Islamist extremists.

The fake bomb was planted in a van near a downtown square lined with shops and offices and crowded with thousands of people attending the holiday festivities.

FBI 'created crime'

But defence attorney Stephen Sady has argued that his client, now 21, is a victim of government entrapment and would never have tried to carry out the bombing on his own.

The FBI "created a crime that would have never happened without them," Sady said in opening statements on Friday.

As the prosecution's first witness on Monday, Trousas outlined the origins of the FBI probe, starting with testimony about email messages that he said investigators found troubling.

Among those Mohamud was found to have corresponded with was Samir Khan, who ended up being killed in a September 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen along with another US-born al-Qaeda militant, Anwar al-Awlaki, Trousas told jurors.

Khan, according to U.S. intelligence, had served as editor of "Inspire," a propaganda and recruitment publication for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group's Yemeni branch.

In some of his e-mail exchanges, Mohamud made statements expressing that "he wanted to become a martyr", and "that was of great concern to us", Trousas testified.


Trousas said Mohamud's father also had alerted the FBI to worries that his son was becoming radicalised, and investigators set out in the summer of 2010 to assess Mohamud's intentions through an undercover investigation.

In Mohamud's first encounter with FBI agents posing as Islamist militants, Trousas testified, they offered him several options to better support Islam - committing to prayer five times a day; continuing his studies to become a doctor or engineer; becoming a fundraiser; becoming "operational" or becoming a "martyr".

Trousas testified that if Mohamud had chosen one of the first two options the FBI would have halted the operation immediately, but instead he told agents he wanted to become "operational".

One of the two undercover agents, who had pretended to be an al-Qaeda recruiter and was identified in court only by his pseudonym, Youssef, later took the stand to recount his first face-to-face meeting with Mohamud in the lobby of a downtown Portland hotel.

The agent acknowledged that he failed to capture the conversation on tape because his hidden audio-recorder malfunctioned. But he testified that when Mohamud was asked what he was willing to do for "the cause", the defendant told him that he had "planned to wage war in the United States".

Their meeting ended with Youssef telling Mohamud to research possible targets for attack in Portland. Less than two weeks later, the agent testified, he received a poem written by Mohamud titled "The Dear Martyr Whose Story I Shall Tell", containing the line: "Oh, woe to the Christians, my dagger hits his chest."

Spectators and members of the media were ordered out of the courtroom and into a nearby chamber to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television during testimony by the agent, whose face remained off camera to protect his identity.

Read more on:    fbi  |  us  |  security

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Land reform process lawful - Zuma

The land reform process is being done according to the law and the Constitution, says President Jacob Zuma.


Latest elections multimedia

11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
The EFF's ad was banned, see why
Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get 50% off selected books!

Buy 2 books and get 50% off the second book. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Note 16GB

GALAXY Note combines the market's largest HD Super AMOLED display,...

From R3899.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be more sensitive today and can be influenced easily by the energies around you. Try not to be swayed too much by more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.