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Defense Opens Its Case In Mohamud Trial

Defense witnesses spent Monday talking about Mohamed Mohamud’s life and offering their analysis of his role in the bomb plan that was to culminate with an explosion in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. The bomb was a fake, and the conspirators were FBI undercover agents.

Sketch by Deborah Marble

Osman Barre, the defendant’s father, tearfully explained that he brought his family to Oregon in 1994 to escape civil war in Somalia. Barre told the jury, “I say, God Bless America. They helped us when we needed it the most.”

He went on to tell about his separation from his wife and problems with their teenage daughter.

When his son called him on Aug. 31, 2009, saying he was leaving the country for Yemen, Barre said he and his estranged wife consulted the Yellow Pages to contact the FBI.

Barre said he learned later that day his son had no visa or plane ticket, and that his wife had taken Mohamud’s passport.

But by then he’d told FBI agents his concerns. The FBI had already been surveilling Mohamud, and the defendant ended up on the no-fly list.

The defense’s second witness, Professor Fathali Moghaddam, is a Georgetown psychologist who has written several books about the psychology of terrorism.

After analyzing how Mohamud interacted with three undercover FBI contacts, he said he observed government agents using subtle cues to influence Mohamud. As for Mohamud’s anti-American statements online, Moghaddem said he found these comments broad, and fairly typical throughout the Muslim world.

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