Legal teams argue over terminology in Portland bomb plot case

Legal teams argue over terminology in Portland bomb plot case
Mohamed Mohamud

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Prosecutors want to call an Oregon man a terrorist while referring to violent jihad and martyrdom, words his defense attorneys have asked a federal judge to forbid.

Federal prosecutors preparing for the January trial of Mohamed Mohamud said in a motion filed Tuesday that the court should let them use the terms because they accurately characterize Mohamud's "conduct and the nature of his case."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight notes in the motion that Mohamud himself allegedly used the terms "terrorism" and "jihad" when speaking with undercover agents, though records of such conversations have not yet been made public.

Knight also seeks to refer to Mohamud's occasional dispatches for the jihadist magazine "Jihad Recollections," reports that Mohamud's attorneys say are protected speech done while Mohamud, 21, was a minor.

Mohamud is accused of conspiring with men he believed were Islamic radicals to detonate a car bomb near a 2010 Portland Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. The bomb was a fake provided by the government and the men were undercover agents.

Defense attorneys Steve Sady and Steve Wax argued in a motion that such words will "blur and dilute the specific elements of the offense and distort the facts of the case."

Prosecutors responded that such a prohibition should be measured, if used at all.

They referenced the Ohio corruption trial of Cuyahoga County commissioner Jimmy Dimora, in which prosecutors were forbidden from referring to Dimora as "godfather" but were permitted to use the terms "corruption," ''corruption investigation," ''bribe," and "kickback."

Wax and Sady also asked U.S. District Court Judge Garr King to tell the jury that the FBI — which led the investigation — violated Mohamud's Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights when it searched his computer during a separate Oregon State Police investigation while Mohamud was in college at Oregon State.

Prosecutors fought that suggestion in their brief, saying King hadn't ruled that Mohamud's constitutional rights had been violated and that an instruction along those lines "would impair the jury's proper role as the trier of fact."

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.