Mohamed Mohamud found guilty
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 19:02
Former Oregon State University student Mohamed Osman Mohamud was found guilty Thursday on one count of attempting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction.
Mohamud attempted to detonate what he believed was a vehicle bomb at the annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland on Nov. 26, 2010.
The device was a phony, and two undercover FBI agents posed as al-Qaida operatives. The two FBI agents had been in contact with Mohamud for five months prior to the attempted detonation. The FBI’s contact with Mohamud occurred after Mohamud was unsuccessful in reaching contacts who were to help assist in his travel overseas.
Mohamud was arrested in Portland after the failed attempt to detonate the bomb, and was indicted three days later.
Mohamud’s defense attorneys were building an entrapment case for their client, because of the seven-month difference between Mohamud’s last communication with his contact and the FBI’s intervention.
However, that case proved to not be enough in outweighing the evidence presented from the arrest affidavit from FBI Special Agent Ryan Dwyer. The jury found Mohamud guilty.
While Mohamud was plotting to detonate a vehicle bomb with undercover FBI agents, he was also a student at Oregon State University.
Those who knew Mohamud well had only positive things to say about his character and personality before they knew about the bomb plot.
“He was really gracious,” said Nick Davis, a senior majoring in psychology who spent time with Mohamud frequently in his freshman year in 2009-2010. “He was always willing to share, accepting of everybody. He was that guy who talks to everybody at the party.”
For Tabron Vorath, his connection to Mohamud goes back to high school. At Westview High School in Beaverton, Vorath and Mohamud had a weightlifting class together and would occasionally play basketball their senior year.
“He was goofy and funny,” Vorath said. “He seemed like a sincere person back then.”
Vorath was subpoenaed to be a character witness in Mohamud’s trial.
“They kind of just wanted to get a first-hand opinion as to what he was like in high school,” Vorath said.
But the federal public investigator, Cynthia Hamilton, called Vorath the night before he was supposed to come in and said he wasn’t needed.
Vorath, a senior majoring in pre-physical therapy, lost touch with Mohamud, though they both came to OSU.
“I would see him on campus every once in a while and we would say, ‘Hi,’ but we kind of lost touch after high school,” Vorath said.
The people who knew Mohamud well were stunned on that fateful day when the bomb plot failed and Mohamud’s face was on every major news outlet.
“That’s part of the reason why so many of us were shocked, because he seemed so well put together,” Davis said. “That makes me wonder, that entire time, was he just faking it?”
According to the arrest affidavit, during the ride to the site of the test detonation on Nov. 4, 2010, the FBI undercover employees and Mohamud discussed the attack: “Mohamud again made clear his vision for the attack: ‘I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured.’”
It was statements like that which showed the other side of someone nobody at OSU ever actually knew well at all.
“Honestly, he was probably one of the nicest guys, I thought,” Vorath said. “So it was just kind of earth-shattering to hear that he attempted to do something like that.”
The sentencing hearing for Mohamud has been set for May 14, and he faces a potential life sentence in prison.
Warner Strausbaugh, sports editor
On Twitter @Wstrausbaugh