PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – For days, prosecutors in an Oregon terrorism trial have hammered jurors with recording after recording in which undercover agents gave the target of an FBI sting a series of chances to reject their advances and turn his back to terror.
The undercover agents were posing as members of al-Qaida, and supported the covert recordings by testifying that they hoped the suspect would walk away from the plot.
That narrative was challenged Thursday by celebratory debriefings _ meetings that were accidentally recorded _ in which undercover agents and their handlers said it was “fantastic” that Mohamed Mohamud asked them for explosives, a crucial step in the sting that culminated with Mohamud’s arrest in November 2010.
“We are fortunate in this case that the government forgot to turn off its microphones,” federal public defender Steve Wax said.
The inadvertent recordings could prove important to the defense’s assertion that Mohamud was entrapped.
Wax said the attitudes that the FBI agents expressed in the recordings should be considered evidence that they were not merely assessing whether Mohamud was a threat, but rather were putting together a prosecutorial case before Mohamud did anything wrong.
“The government argues that they are imploring him not to do this,” Wax said, “but when the agents are alone … they’re saying, `Great, we’re thrilled, good job.'”
Mohamud has been charged with attempting to blow up Portland’s 2010 Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. The bomb was a fake provided by undercover FBI agents who met with their handlers after in-person conversations with Mohamud.
At least one of them left a recorder running, and among the agents recorded was “Hussein,” the pseudonym of an undercover FBI agent posing as an al-Qaida bomb specialist who has testified over two days about his role in the sting.
Wax tried to get the recordings entered into evidence Thursday, but U.S. District Court Judge Garr King declined, saying Wax could play them only if he needed to rebut a statement from “Hussein.”
That began an hours-long cat-and-mouse game, with Wax questioning “Hussein” on his intentions during the sting. The agent assented that he was happy Mohamud picked a “sexy” crime and thought the FBI had enough evidence in mid-November to make an arrest.
He didn’t challenge Wax on his state of mind during the recordings, so the recordings weren’t played.
“There was no sadness that a teenage American kid (met) with supposed al-Qaida figures in the way that Mohamud did?” Wax asked.
“No sadness,” the agent responded.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick