Mohamed Mohamud is scheduled to go on trial next month on charges he conspired to set off a bomb at Portland’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The federal judge overseeing the trial is making decisions on more than 400 pieces of evidence.
Judge Garr King has ruled that prosecutors may show jurors the dummy bomb FBI agents built as part of the sting operation that led to Mohamud’s arrest. It’s been preserved as evidence, still in the van that drove it close to Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. It was there, prosecutors will argue, the young man used a cell phone to key in what he believed was the code to trigger an explosion.
Attorneys in the case sparred over whether evidence pertaining to an overseas correspondent of Mohamud’s should be declassified. Prosecutors indicated they hope to use it to shed light on the origins of the case.
It appears the government became aware of Mohamud in 2009, when he was in high school. Surveillance began later that year. In 2010, undercover employees of the FBI got in touch with Mohamud. They talked to him about what he wanted to do.
Prosecutors say they’ll show Mohamud, now 21, initiated the bomb plot. Defense attorneys have said they’ll pursue an entrapment defense, showing the FBI coerced him.
Judge King also ruled on what form the jury instructions would take. The instructions call for prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mohamud was predisposed to commit the crime before government agents contacted him. They’ll also have to show the government operatives didn’t induce him to act on the plot.
And the judge approved a set of protections for undercover FBI operatives who will testify.
The operatives will be allowed to use their assumed names, and wear what prosecutors call “light disguises.” Most observers will be cleared from the courtroom when they’re on the stand.
April Baer is covering the Mohamud trial for OPB. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Find more Mohamud trial coverage here.