Opening statements made in Christmas tree bomb plot trial


by Staff

Posted on January 11, 2013 at 8:22 PM

PORTLAND -- Opening statements were underway Friday just before 3 p.m. for a man accused in a plot to detonate a bomb in Portland's 2010 Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

The FBI said 19-year-old Mohamed Mohamud intended to kill thousands of people when he tried to detonate a bomb at the packed ceremony on November 26, 2010. The bomb was actually a fake, supplied by undercover agents who Mohamud thought were his co-conspirators.

Agents said Mohamud twice dialed a cell phone that he thought was the detonator.

Pamela Holsinger for the U.S. Attorney's Office told the jury Mohamud was willing to commit mass murder in the name of extremism, and before the FBI intervened, he had already decided violence against civilians was justified.

Later, the defense fired back. Defense attorney Steve Sady argued the government pushed Mohamud to so something he would have avoided on his own. He said the FBI cannot created the very crime they're trying to stop.

Background: Portland tree lighting bomb plot

The 85 people in the jury pool were questioned by the judge and attorneys in Portland's federal courthouse Thursday. The jury selection took a while because it deals with contentious issues like terrorism and government overreach.

According to a jury questionnaire, Mohamud's defense will be entrapment. He is represented by high-profile attorneys Steven Wax and Stephen Sady.

"This could be the first case where an entrapment defense works," Professor Tung Yin of Lewis & Clark College told KGW. "We've got very talented defense lawyers who have considerable experience at defending post 9/11 terrorism cases."

Several people were dismissed in the jury selection process Thursday.  One of them told KGW he was cut from the pool because a very close friend of his was killed during the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  That close friend was Navy Seal Tyrone Woods, from Oregon City.

More: Friend of man killed in Libya cut from jury

Another juror was excused after she told the judge her brother-in-law was working in the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks. He survived but later committed suicide.

Jury selection was expected to take up to two days. The jury questionnaire estimated the trial would take three to four weeks.


KGW Reporters Art Edwards and Pat Dooris contributed to this report.