U.S. District Judge Garr M. King noted in his opinion that he had privately reviewed papers submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington, D.C., and found that the government's snooping was lawfully authorized.
"I saw nothing during the review," King wrote, "that gave me cause for concern that false statements were made to support the (surveillance) applications, but note that they were well-supported in great detail."
The secretive D.C. court, created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, handles warrants for eavesdropping in terrorism and espionage cases. To get permission for wiretaps and physical surveillance, the government must show probable cause that the target of their investigation is either a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.
Defense lawyers had asked King to let them review the papers submitted by the FBI to obtain the warrants. They laid out eight reasons why the Mohamud case was unusual enough to permit their involvement -- among them that Mohamud appears to have fallen under FBI surveillance while still a juvenile.
Government prosecutors have not disclosed when the FBI opened its investigation of Mohamud, saying in a recent evidence hearing that the information is classified. But court records and a recent hearing suggest that the FBI was keeping tabs on Mohamud in early 2009, as he exchanged 150 emails with Islamic jihadist Samir Khan, publisher of the online magazine Inspire. The publication was reportedly backed by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Mohamud's father, Osman Barre, went to the FBI that August, a few weeks after his son turned 18, concerned that the teen was being brainwashed by jihadists, according to the government.
The FBI arrested Mohamud on Nov. 26, 2010, accusing him of attempting to ignite a weapon of mass destruction at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square. The Somali-American is accused of pushing cell phone buttons to set off what he thought was a van loaded with explosives during the city's annual tree-lighting ceremony. But the bomb, presented to him by undercover FBI operatives posing as terrorists, was a harmless fake.