The prosecution finished presenting its case yesterday against Mohamed Osman Mohamud. The 21 year old is accused of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction–a van filled with six 55 gallon barrels filled with fertilizer and diesel fuel–to blow up thousands of Christmas revelers at Pioneer Courthouse Square for the lighting of “The Tree.” The bomb was a phony–constructed by FBI bomb experts who intercepted the then 19 year old as he conversed via internet with known members of Al Qaeda.
The defense bookended the day’s testimony with Mohamud’s parents and in between called a favorite teacher from Westview High School, a friend from school and former co-workers to testify about Mohamud’s good character.
In tearful testimony, the parents described a panicked response when learning their son threatened to leave the country, claiming he had a ticket, visa and his passport. Mohamud wanted to go to Yemen to attend an
Islamic university.They talked of fear of him being spirited away to Somalia where he would take up arms for Al Shabaab, the Somalian franchise of Al Qaeda, the radicals responsible for the Black Hawk Down attack in 1993.
Osman Barre and his estranged wife Mariam Barre both testified yesterday afternoon that they knew of other Somalians in Minneapolis, home to a large Somalian community, whose sons have been radicalized–brainwashed they called it–given airline tickets and sent off to war back home. Both testified a woman they knew found out her son had died from an online video showing his shot up body.
They told Mohamud he could go to Yemen when he graduated college in America because American universities ‘were the best in the world.’ They testified that Mohamud agreed with finishing school. His father said he wanted Mohamud to grow up and mature before making a decision to study there.
Osman Barre told of how he had to leave Somalia to escape the war, found his way to Kenya and eventually making to the U.S. as a refugee. Haltingly and breaking down in tears, he described that his wife and three year old Mohamed were “malnourished and suffering” when they arrived to meet him in America after a year and a half. As his father testified about the ordeal, Mohamud reached for the tissues and dabbed at his eyes and cheeks.
Barre testified Somalian born kids have difficulty living their traditional lives and their new American ones. He called it an identity crisis and said it was typical of kids in Somali American homes. Both parents said they had no idea of Mohamud’s terrorist proclivities or connections.
When asked by attorney Lisa Hay if, despite everything, he still loved his son, Barre responded, “I love him more than anybody I know of.”
Barre’s testimony was followed up by a nurse who interviewed Mohamud while he was on suicide watch the day after he was arrested.
Christina Barnes testified Mohamud told her that he was connected with some people that made him feel ‘cared about; gave him direction and purpose.’
“The Al Qaeda gave him some direction and something to do.”