An Oregon father took the witness stand Monday to defend his son, accused terrorist Mohamed Mohamud, from what he called the FBI’s brainwashing. Mohamud is charged with one count of trying to detonate a weapon of mass destruction at Portland’s Christmas tree-lighting ceremony on Nov. 26, 2010.
Mohamud’s father, Osman Barre, told the courtroom he had been worried about his son’s safety in 2009 after Mohamud said he was planning on traveling to Yemen in order to learn Arabic. Barre had read about young men who were going to Yemen for terrorism training, according to The Associated Press.
At one point after Mohamud expressed interest in leaving the country, his father wasn’t able to reach him, leading Barre to get in touch with the FBI.
“We panicked,” the Somali immigrant said on the stand. “Every day I say God bless America,” and telling the prosecutor he told his son, “I brought you here to give you a life of prosperity.”
FBI investigators had already been monitoring Mohamud, now 21, for months, watching his online contact with Islamic radicals that dated back to when he was just 17 years old. They eventually got in touch with Mohamud and, posing as al Qaeda recruiters, supplied him with a fake bomb, which was used in the attempted Portland attack.
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Barre testified that his son was a sociable freshman at Oregon State University who followed the NBA and read the Harry Potter books before something changed in him. By sophomore year Mohamud, who had been told time and again as a child he was lucky to live in America, had become withdrawn and spent many days sleeping in his dorm room. The Oregonian reported that by June 2010 Mohamud had been placed on the no-fly list.
“Can I tell you, the FBI brainwashed my son,” Barre said while being questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight.
Lawyers defending Mohamud have claimed he was set up by the FBI.