Jury selection is underway in the terrorism trial of Mohamed Mohamud, a Somali-American accused of attempting to ignite a "weapon of mass destruction" at Portland's 2010 holiday tree-lighting ceremony, The Oregonian reports Jan. 10. But an NPR report states: "There was no bomb—the defendant was the target of an FBI sting operation… His lawyers are expected to argue their client was entrapped… The car bombing plot—the purchasing of the car, the gathering of explosives, the plan itself—was orchestrated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation." True, the guy came to the attention of the FBI when he started posting to online jihadist forums. But he was only 19 years old when he was arrested, and therefore could try "to convince the jury he was manipulated by the FBI." Good to see the media finally raising some skepticism about a specious terrorism case. Additionally, although no media account has mentioned this angle, we strongly object to calling a conventional explosive a "weapon of mass destruction." Much less one that didn't even exist! What's up with that?
Last month the New York Times reported that a federal trial is about to open in Brooklyn in the case of three men "arrested" in Africa en route to Yemen in August. "They are accused of participating in weapons and explosives training with Al Shabab, a United States-designated terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda, during a four-year period beginning in 2008. Court documents show no connection between the alleged crimes and the United States." Al-Shabab is, of course, the jihadist rebel movement in Somalia. But the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals that at least one of the men—Mahdi Hashi, 23, a British citizen of Somali background—was not exactly "arrested," but "rendered" (or, in the Newspeak version, "renditioned") by the US from Djibouti. He was apparently plucked from a jail in Djibouti by US agents in June, and his whereabouts were unknown to his family back in the UK until the indictment against him was unsealed in late December. He had apparently fled to the Horn of Africa after being harassed and spied on by the authorities in Britain. The two other men in the case are of Swedish citizenship, and it is unclear how they ended up in US custody. As even the New York Times account admitted: "Much of the case is shrouded in mystery."