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Man who hoped to blow up tree-lighting ceremony gets sentenced

PORTLAND, Ore. - An Oregon man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison for plotting to bomb a crowded Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland's town square four years ago.

Prosecutors had sought a 40-year term for Mohamed Mohamud, 23, in the plot that actually was an FBI sting.

Mohamud was arrested Nov. 26, 2010, after pressing a keypad button on a cellphone that he believed would trigger a massive truck bomb and kill people gathered for the annual event. But the bomb was a fake provided by undercover FBI agents posing as al Qaeda recruiters.

The crowd watches as the tree is lit on Pioneer Courthouse square Friday night, Nov. 26, 2010 to the music of Pink Martini and with Santa Claus. A Somali-born teenager, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested at 5:40 p.m. just after he dialed a cell phone that he thought would blow up a van laden with explosives but instead brought federal agents and Portland police swooping in to take him into custody. He was arrested and charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. AP Photo/Torsten Kjellstrand - The Oregonian

The undercover agents made friends with Mohamud - a Somali American - after learning he had written for an online jihadi magazine and exchanged emails with accused terrorists.

Jurors rejected Mohamud's entrapment defense at his January 2013 trial. The sentencing was pushed back a year after the government disclosed that warrantless overseas wiretaps helped make its case. The defense unsuccessfully sought a new trial.

Government attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Garr King to give Mohamud to four decades in prison. Lead prosecutor Ethan Knight said the former Oregon State University student never wavered or hesitated in his willingness to kill people that day.

Chief Federal Public Defender Stephen Sady said 40 years would be "draconian," and asked for King to impose no more than 10 years.

Sady said Mohamud has shown remorse, and been doing everything he can while in prison to become a better person.

He contends Mohamud had no plans to carry out an attack until after he met the undercover agents.

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