FBI agents who observed Mohamed Mohamud’s behavior before and during an undercover operation offered testimony on how law enforcement handled the case.
Special agent John Hallock, a bomb technician, was the man tasked with building the dummy bomb for the sting operation that led to Mohamud’s arrest. He told the jury he was building a device based on specifications other agents passed along, in accord with what he understood to be Mohamud’s lethal intent. The result was an 1,800 pound fake device that filled the back of a van.
Cross examination revealed Hallock’s comments on surveillance tapes, celebrating the operation, and noting the FBI had written up a press release before Mohamud was even arrested.
Special Agent Elvis Chan supervised “Youssef,” one of the undercover agents who interacted extensively with Mohamud during the bomb plot that ended in Mohamud’s arrest in November of 2010. Chan observed their first face-to-face meeting. His version of that day was very similar to the story Youssef told on the stand. Both witnesses have said Mohamud agreed readily he was ready to become “operational,” and take part in a car bombing.
But on cross-examination, Chan acknowledged there was no recording to corroborate his story. He also acknowledged that he’d destroyed his notes of the meeting after filing his report. Federal public defender Lisa Hay pointed out that some of Chan’s reports from the investigation included factual errors. She also showed he made note of what the defendant said, but not the words of agents talking to Mohamud.
Later in the day, Special Agent Isaac DeLong testified. DeLong undertook a six-month observation of Mohamud after the defendant’s father voiced concerns his son was “brainwashed.”
DeLong noted Mohamud made attempts to conceal some overseas contacts from his family. Delong also testified under cross-examination about his written assessment of Mohamud as “conflicted” and vulnerable to manipulation, several months before other agents began the undercover sting. DeLong affirmed he’d seen examples of Mohamud wanting to live both a devout Muslim life, and to party with his friends while at school.
During a break in testimony, Mohamud’s mother could be seen kneeling in prayer outside the courtroom, hands extended skyward. Then she lowered her head, and after a long pause, began to cry.
April Baer is covering the Mohamud trial for OPB. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Find more Mohamud trial coverage here.