PORTLAND — A Somali American is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday for attempting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction four years ago in Portland's downtown square.
Mohamed Mohamud, 23, could get life in prison, but government prosecutors recommend a sentence of 40 years behind bars. Mohamud's attorneys want a term of no more than 10 years.
Mohamud was arrested Nov. 26, 2010, after pressing a keypad button on a black cellphone that he believed would trigger a 1,800-pound diesel-and-fertilizer truck bomb where thousands of people gathered for the annual lighting of a Christmas tree.
In reality, nobody was in danger. The bomb was a fake supplied by undercover FBI agents posing as al Qaeda recruiters. The agents "befriended" Mohamud after learning he had written for an online jihadi magazine and exchanged emails with accused terrorists.
Jurors rejected Mohamud's entrapment defense at his January 2013 trial. But his lawyers continue to point out that the episode wouldn't have happened without government involvement, and that should lead U.S. District Court Judge Garr King to impose a more lenient sentence than what prosecutors seek.
In his sentencing memorandum, lead prosecutor Ethan Knight wrote that Mohamud never wavered in his willingness to kill thousands that November day. "The evidence at trial established that defendant's murderous conduct was the culmination of a mindset that began to develop years before the commencement of the government's investigation," Knight wrote in the August 2013 filing. "Over that period, defendant became radicalized to such a startling degree that he was willing to commit chilling acts of violence in the name of Islamic extremism."
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