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US Christmas tree bomb plot suspect found guilty

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A Somali-American was found guilty Thursday over an alleged plot to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the US state of Oregon more than two years ago.

The jury returned its verdict on Mohamed Mohamud less than a day after retiring to deliberate after his trial over the attempted attack on November 26, 2010, an AFP reporter said.

The 21-year-old, whose lawyers claimed he was tricked into the attempted bombing by undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, faces up to life in prison for plotting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

But prosecutors in the northwestern US state insisted during the nearly three-week trial that the young man actively participated in a plot that could have killed thousands, had the bomb been real.

Sentencing was set for May 14 at the federal US District court in Portland, near where the bombing occurred.

It was unclear whether Mohamud's lawyers planned to appeal the verdict, though the case they made during the trial laid the grounds for an appellate court filing, said the Oregonian.

In closing arguments Wednesday defense lawyer Stephen Sady said Mohamud, who was first contacted by an undercover agent a year before the attempted bombing, was a troubled teenager led on by the FBI.

"He's not a threat," the publicly-appointed attorney said, cited by local ABC television affiliate KATU. "He's simply a person trying to live through a difficult adolescence."

"In America, the government cannot create a crime," he added.

But Assistant US Attorney Ethan Knight dismissed the claim, saying: "We are not talking about an adolescent period... We're talking about a bomb."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130131/us-christmas-tree-bomb-plot-suspect-found-guilty