FBI agent takes stand in bomb-plot trial

FBI agent takes stand in bomb-plot trial
A sketch of Mohamed Mohamud sitting with this defense attorney during opening statements on Friday. (Sketch by Deborah Marble)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- An FBI agent who launched the undercover investigation of Mohamed Mohamud took the stand Monday morning as the first witness in the terrorism trial.

Special agent Miltiadis Trousas described the emails that he intercepted in Spring 2010 between Mohamud and an Al-Quaida recruiter that prompted the FBI to begin the undercover operation.

Mohamud “made statements that he wanted to be a martyr, so that was a great concern for us,” Trousas testified.

The agent’s testimony came in the trial of the 21-year-old former Oregon State University student charged in U.S. District Court with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

A 12-member jury was seated on Friday, followed by attorneys’ opening statements in the afternoon.

Trousas testified that in June 2010 he assumed the role of an associate of an Al-Quaida recruiter and began emailing Mohamud.

“Are you still able to help the brothers?” Trousas said he wrote, posing as a jihad extremist.

After Mohamud expressed interest in assisting the jihad movement, Trousas began sending more emails to Mohamud under the name “Youssef.” Youssef was to be the name of the first undercover FBI agent, who would meet with Mohamud later in the summer of 2010.

Trousas also explained why the FBI staged an in-person meeting with Mohamud.

“The goal of the meeting was to assess Mr. Mohamud’s mindset” about whether he was serious about turning violent, Trousas said.

During cross-examination, Chief Deputy Federal Public Defender Stephen Sady attempted to show Trousas used his FBI training to target whom he described as a vulnerable teenager.

“You heard from other agents he was a manipulable and conflicted teenager?” Sady asked. The agent said yes.

Sady also pointed out that Trousas used information that Mohamud had a troubled home life and was easily influenced.

Trousas' testimony was cut short at lunchtime. It will resume on Monday afternoon.

The undercover agent, “Youssef,” is expected to begin testifying late in the afternoon and should be on the stand for about two days.

The trial is anticipated to last four weeks.