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Prosecutors Petition Judge to Be Able to Use Words 'Terrorist,' 'Jihad'

Tue, November 13, 2012

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are preparing to make their first arguments before a judge in the case of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, accused of conspiring with men he believed were Islamic radicals to detonate a car bomb in the midst of a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon in 2010.

Only before the trial begins, prosecutors have had to make another case to the judge: Permission to refer to the Oregon suspect as a “terrorist” and to describe the crimes he is accused of in his own words – namely, “violent jihad” and “martyrdom.”

Mohamud’s lawyers argued that exposing the jury to such words will "blur and dilute the specific elements of the offense and distort the facts of the case."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight countered that Mohamud himself is reported to have used the terms "terrorism" and "jihad" when speaking with undercover agents involved in the case. Records of such conversations have not yet been made public.

Knight also wants to be able to refer to Mohamud's occasional dispatches for the magazine "Jihad Recollections," but Mohamud's lawyers have argued that those dispatches fall into the category of “protected speech” since they were written when Mohamud, now 21, was a minor.

As ClarionProject.org reported earlier in an article titled Does the FBI 'Hatch Terrorist Plots? the facts of the case were as follows: Authorities began investigating Mohamud after they received a tip that he was "intensely interested in committing violent jihad." Mohamud wanted to kill a "huge mass of people with their families" and came up to the idea himself.  Authorities watched Mohamud as he bought explosives and practiced setting them off. 

Mohamud’s target was a Chritmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland where 10,000 people were expected to be in attendance. At one point, an FBI agent asked Mohamud, “You know there’s gonna be a lot of children there?” Mohamud answered, “Yeah, I mean that’s what I’m looking for.”

According to an affidavit, the agents asked him many times if he was prepared to commit such a violent act. Mohamud answered, “I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured.”

FBI agents provided six 55-gallon drums filled with fake materials. After Mohamud tried repeatedly to trigger the bomb, he was arrested.