"Providing an opportunity for someone predisposed to commit a crime is not entrapment. It's simply one of our few tools for protecting ourselves from self-radicalized jihadists."
According to some reports, Mohamud's father contacted the FBI and expressed concern about his 19-year-old son's behaviour. The FBI began to monitor him and put him on the no fly list, making it impossible for him to take a summer job in Alaska (or going anywhere else). Then the FBI began monitoring his emails and Internet activity and finally posed as Muslim jihadists to get the boy's confidence. Up to that point, there is no problem except to wonder if something else could have been done earlier on.
The problem with the FBI involvement is that instead of monitoring him and encouraging him, they actually provided him with the fake bomb he tried to set off. We don't know if he would have been capable of actually building a bomb and remote detonator himself (even with info provided by the FBI).
The question of entrapment is difficult. It turns on the question of whether the government agent crossed the line and became a facilitor or criminel activity insetead of merely being an agent provocateur. Government agents commit entrapment if three conditions are fulfilled:
1. The idea for committing the crime came from the government agents and not from the person accused of the crime. In this case it is not clear whether Mohamud would have beyond advocacy to a desire to actually blow up a Christmas tree lighting event.
2. Government agents then persuaded or talked the person into committing the crime. Simply giving him the opportunity to commit the crime is not the same as persuading him to commit the crime. It appears that the FBI actually went about convincing him to act. The fact that they also suggested non-violent alternatives to him does not necessarily neutralize their encouragement.
3. The person was not ready and willing to commit the crime before the government agents spoke with him. This is a difficult question because it requires intimate knowledge of what was actually going on in Mohamud's mind. There is sometimes a difference in saying you want to do something and being of a mind to actually do it.
On the issue of entrapment, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not entrapped by government agents. As in any other proceedings, the burden of proof is on the State, not the defendant.
Apart from the legal issues, there is a moral issue where someone entraps, entices, induces, tempts another person to do something evil. According to Christian moral theologians, it is a sin to put someone in the occasion of sin. In such a case, both the enticer and the enticed are guilty of an evil action. This concept goes all the way back to the story of Adam and Eve. Eve ate the forbidden fruit and was punished for her disobedience. However, the serpent who tempted her was also punished (even though he was not under any explicit order to avoid talking to her about the fruit).
The problem with our current secular law is that there is no punishment for a government agent who willfully and knowingly entraps a suspect. Unlike the Biblical story of Eve and the serpent, the FBI agent gets off scot free.