Jurors were given starkly different portraits of the man who was 17 when the FBI began to focus on him. In the prosecution’s description, Mohamud was a powder keg in search of a spark, an angry teeenager with the right combination of anti-Western sentiment and a plausible cover story as an Oregon college student.
In the defense’s telling, he was confused, broke and suffering under the weight of parental expectations. Gullible and eager to please, Mohamud’s attorneys said he fell into a plot entirely of the FBI’s making, following along with men he imagined were like family.
Mohamud sat still as King read the verdict in a slow, deliberate cadence. His parents, who attended every day of the trial, were absent, leaving the seating reserved for family entirely empty throughout the announcement of the verdict.
After the verdict, the FBI asserted again that Mohamud would indeed have found a way to commit a violent act had agents not intervened.
“Mr. Mohamud made a series of choices over a period of several years — choices that were leading him down a path that would have ended in violence," said Greg Fowler, who leads the FBI office in Portland. “His actions showed little regard for the rights and responsibilities that come with being an American or respect for the lives that he was prepared to take."
Mohamud’s attorney, Steve Sady, later said an appeal was being planned after the scheduled May 14 sentencing.
“We are disappointed with the verdict," Sady said. “We obviously though he was entrapped."
Prosecutors argued that Mohamud was predisposed to terrorism as early as 15 years old. Mohamud traded emails with an al-Qaida lieutenant later killed in a drone strike. He also told undercover agents he would pose as a college student while preparing for violent jihad.
Mohamud was never called to testify. Instead, the jurors saw thousands of exhibits and heard hours of testimony from friends, parents, undercover FBI agents and experts in counterterrorism, teenage brain development and the psychology of the Muslim world.
“This case has been a difficult case for the city of Portland. It’s been a particularly difficult case for Mohamed Mohamud’s community, for his family, for the Somali community," said Amanda Marshall, U.S. Attorney for Oregon. “We are hopeful that this will bring closure and healing to all of us here in Portland."