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November 30th, 2011 COREY PEIN | News Stories
 

30 Missing Minutes

Numbers are key to the fate of the accused Christmas Tree Bomber.

news_30missingminutes_3804ILLUSTRATION: Dennis Culver
Inmates in custody of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office as of Nov. 28: 1,167

Inmates arrested by the FBI: 3

Number of inmates charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction: 1

Weeks since the FBI arrested that inmate, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, for what prosecutors call a plan to bomb the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at Pioneer Courthouse Square: 52

Mohamud’s age: 20

Age at which Mohamud, who was born in Somalia and grew up in Oregon, allegedly told an undercover FBI agent that he had begun thinking about armed jihad: 15

Age at which Mohamud first came under government surveillance after allegedly reading jihadist magazines: 16

Age at which Mohamud’s hard drive was secretly searched by FBI agents, in the course of a state police investigation at Oregon State University involving an unsubstantiated date-rape claim by another student there: 18

Maximum number of days after the secret computer search found emails between Mohamud and a friend in Pakistan that a federal agent, masquerading as a terrorist named “Bill Smith,” emailed Mohamud to ask if he would “do violence in the United States”: 7

Months after the government’s first attempts to entice the teenager via email that undercover agents arranged their first face-to-face meeting with Mohamud: 9

Approximate length, in minutes, of that meeting, at which the Pioneer Courthouse Square plot was first discussed: 30

Minutes of that meeting successfully recorded, on account of dead batteries in the FBI’s bugging device: 0

Hours of other video and audio recordings of Mohamud the government did manage to capture during its investigation: “hundreds”

Approximate pages of investigative material, including emails and text messages, the FBI collected on Mohamud before his arrest: 6,000

Jihadist terrorism cases brought into U.S. courts since 9/11: 578

Percentage of those cases involving use of a government informant or undercover agent: 41

Percentage of informant cases that included a sting operation: 15

Rough share of sting cases that went to trial in which government agents failed to record crucial meetings: “most”

Terrorism defendants in U.S. courts since 9/11 who argued entrapment, meaning they would not have committed a crime without government inducement: 10

Number of those entrapment defenses that have succeeded, according to a New York University study: 0

Minimum number of face-to-face meetings between Mohamud and undercover FBI agents prior to the Christmas tree plot: 7

Amount the FBI paid Mohamud for an apartment and bomb components to be used in the plot: $2,800

Gallons of diesel fuel used to lend a convincing odor to the inert bomb constructed by FBI technicians, and placed in the van driven to Pioneer Courthouse Square by Mohamud and an undercover agent last year: 1

Maximum prison term Mohamud faces if convicted: any term of years or for life

Registered FBI informants: 15,000

Pentagon estimate of al-Qaida’s worldwide membership: 3,000 to 4,000

Percentage of post-9/11 terrorism defendants who, like Mohamud, are not affiliated with any known terrorist group: 40

Percentage of defendants who, like Mohamud, are U.S. citizens: 42

Federal terrorism prosecutions in Oregon since 9/11, including Mohamud’s case: 10

Number involving informants: 10

Number of defendants who pleaded guilty: 7

Number found guilty at trial: 1

Weeks remaining until Mohamud’s scheduled trial date: 24


Sources: Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, filings in U.S. District Court in Portland, New York University Center on Law and Security, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones magazine.

 
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