Judge Rules Portland Bomb-Plot Suspect Mohamud Can’t Have FBI Informant’s Identification
Mohamed Mohamud’s lawyers on Wednesday lost their fight to obtain the name of an FBI informant peripherally involved in the government’s terrorism case against him. The defense team also came up short while attempting to grill the FBI agent who once headed the Mohamud investigation.
Lawyers for the 21-year-old defendant, accused of attempting to bomb Portland’s 2010 holiday tree-lighting ceremony, had tried for months to obtain the name of an FBI informant using the alias “Bill Smith.” But U.S. District Judge Garr M. King ruled that the government could withhold Smith’s true identity.
Smith had written to Mohamud, who was using the address email@example.com, in November 2009, as part of an unrelated national security case. Those emails continued until early 2010.
King’s opinion noted that the government had already turned over all the emails between Smith and Mohamud; internal FBI reports; a letter explaining how Smith was asked to make contact with Mohamud; and information on payments made to Smith for his work.
The judge took the extraordinary step of bringing Smith to his chambers on Monday morning for a private hearing on whether his identity could be divulged to the defense.
With a court reporter taking notes, prosecutors posed questions to Smith, and the judge — who prevented Mohamud’s lawyers from attending the hearing — asked questions supplied to him by the defense team.
King’s opinion revealed new details about contacts between the informant and Mohamud.
“Bill Smith never met Mohamud and had no other type of contact through telephone calls, text messages, regular mail, or other method,” he wrote. “Thus, it is undisputed Bill Smith broke off contact with Mohamud in April 2010 and had no part in the scheme to explode a bomb at the tree-lighting ceremony.”