Prosecutors in Portland are asking a federal judge to dismiss a request from defense attorneys representing accused terror suspect Mohamed Mohamud to keep them from referring to "violent jihad" and martyrdom in his upcoming terrorism trial.
The Somali-born Mohamud, 21, is scheduled to go on trial in January for allegedly conspiring with men he believed were Islamic radicals to set off a car bomb at Portland's Nov. 26, 2010 Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. The bomb was a fake and was provided to him by undercover agents.
Defense attorneys contend that allowing references to the terms "terrorist," "violent jihad" and "martyr" would be prejudicial to their client and "blur and dilute" the facts of the case, which they claim involved entrapment, according to the Associated Press.
But in court papers, prosecutors counter that Mohamud used these terms himself in meetings with undercover agents and that they show his motivation, which they say stems from an ideology that encourages violent jihad.
The defense similarly sought to exclude evidence about the defendant's contacts with Amr Al-Ali, listed by the Saudi government as one of its top "47 most wanted terrorists linked to al-Qaida." It similarly wants Mahmoud's email communications with Samir Khan, an al-Qaida terrorist killed in the drone strike that also killed terrorist mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki, excluded from the trial, along with Mohamud's published writings in Khan's online jihadist magazine Jihad Recollections from consideration.
Defense attorneys claim this evidence should be excluded from trial consideration because Mahmoud allegedly was a juvenile at the time of his interactions with Khan, and the communication was covered under the 1st Amendment.
"The evidence [the] defendant seeks to exclude is highly probative of his motive, intent, and, in particular, his predisposition to commit the offense," prosecutors wrote in their court motion. "It is worth noting, however, that the government could neither control the fact that [the] defendant chose to engaged in a written relationship with an international terrorist, nor did the government have any role in [the] defendant's decision (while a juvenile) to publish articles that advocated violent jihad."