PORTLAND, Ore. – In a slow, dispassionate monotone, an FBI agent on Thursday read selections from an Oregon terrorism suspect's contributions to a jihadi magazine as prosecutors attempted to establish Mohamed Mohamud's mindset in the year before his arrest.
Mohamud's federal terrorism trial is in its third week, and prosecutors have tried to show Mohamud was predisposed to committing terrorism before a monthslong sting operation culminated with his November 2010 arrest.
As a teenager in 2009, Mohamud contributed to the online, English-language jihadi magazine "Jihad Recollections."
His contributions to the publication varied in focus and appeared alongside articles written by Usama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda higher-ups.
While bin Laden wrote a piece called "Four practical steps to expand global jihad," Mohamud's contributions were more innocuous and included a workout advice column to jihadis fighting in war zones. That column earned Mohamud the nickname "Usama Gym Laden" from a British tabloid.
In opening statements, one of Mohamud's defense attorneys described the workout advice from Mohamud as being akin to "high school gym class."
On Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Pam Holsinger pointed out a photo above the story, which included masked men holding guns.
"Does this look like high school gym class?" she asked FBI agent Ryan Dwyer.
Dwyer replied, "It does not."
Establishing Mohamud's state of mind before the FBI targeted him in a terrorism sting operation is key to the prosecution's assertion that it did not entrap a then-teenager, as his defense claims.
Mohamud's pseudonymous contributions to "Jihad Recollections" were made public soon after his indictment on charges that he attempted to detonate a bomb at Portland's 2010 Christmas-tree lighting ceremony. The bomb was a fake supplied by undercover FBI agents.
Jurors heard at least one straight hour of content from the magazine, read by Dwyer. The articles, written by a variety of authors other than Mohamud, were aimed at radicalizing Muslims in the U.S. and included advice on bringing recent Muslim converts into a war against the West.
The issue was a significant one at the time Mohamud was writing -- more than a dozen Somali teenagers left Minneapolis in 2009, apparently en route to join a global jihad. The magazine also tracked with terror cases in the U.S., praising both the massacre at Fort Hood, outside Killeen, Texas, and an attempted bombing in Times Square.
Mohamud's defense team showed dozens of text messages intercepted by the FBI during his first year at Oregon State University. They showed a teenager preoccupied with partying, drinking and using marijuana.
By his sophomore year, after he'd began working with undercover FBI agents to plot an attack, Mohamud began telling friends that he was trying to give up drinking and partying. But the messages were interspersed with others asking for marijuana or talking about a night of partying.
Interactions with Mohamud's parents indicated they were having marital problems. In September, Mohamud's father texted, "Also, I need ur help. I'm thinking of bringing back your mom..."