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Jury selection begins in Portland car bomb case

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 3:55 am •  Published: January 11, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Have you ever been the victim of a terrorist attack? Are you familiar with FBI terrorism sting operations? Were you among the thousands of people at a 2010 Oregon Christmas tree-lighting ceremony?

These were among the questions posed to more than 80 prospective jurors at the federal terrorism trial of Mohamed Mohamud, who is accused of trying to detonate a 1,800-pound bomb at the tree lighting in November 2010. The bomb was a fake, provided by undercover FBI agents.

The trial is expected to feature, at some point, the testimony of the two men whom Mohamud thought were his jihadist co-conspirators.

They were in fact undercover FBI agents tasked with leading the sting of Mohamud that led to his November 2010 arrest. When they testify, the two men will be allowed to wear disguises when they enter and leave the courthouse, and the public will have to watch their testimony via a closed-circuit video feed.

When informants connected to the case are on the stand, their faces will not be shown on closed-circuit TV but their voices will be heard.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges Mohamud intended to kill thousands when he pushed a button on a cellphone that he thought would detonate a 1,800-pound bomb. The bomb was a fake, and Mohamud was arrested moments later, shouting "God is great" in Arabic, according to the FBI affidavit.

Mohamud's defense team has suggested in court documents that it will pursue an entrapment defense.

Thursday morning's jury selection took place in a city that has an unusual relationship with federal law enforcement.

A range of incidents set the tone immediately after 9/11, when the Portland Police Bureau refused a Justice Department directive to interview Middle Eastern immigrants, citing Oregon civil-rights protections.

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