Christmas Day Would-be Bomber Back In Federal Court


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Christmas Day Would-be Bomber Back In Federal Court

By Jim Douglas

October 15, 2010 - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian man, age 23 with ties to al-Qaeda, on Christmas day in 2009, tried to set off plastic explosives sewn to his underwear onboard a Northwest Airlines Flight 253, with 289 people onboard from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan was back in federal court on Thursday. 

Back in September 2009, Abdulmutallab had informed Judge Nancy Edmunds of United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan that he would plead guilty to several offences, he did not need the four publicly financed attorneys and he wanted to represent himself. Abdulmutallab stated relying on others wasn't in his best interest. 

At Thursday?s court hearing, Judge Edmunds ordered government prosecutors to share evidence with attorney Anthony Chambers who was there only in the capacity to offer advice to Abdulmutallab. The prosecution reported that documents would be provided to Mr. Chambers in the next few days. Abdulmutallab informed the court he didn't think that was necessary and again refused the assistance.


Judge Edmunds informed Abdulmutallab that he needs advice based on the information the government gives to attorney Chambers and advised him to reconsider having an attorney represent and present the case. Abdulmutallab responded "I like the arrangement the way it is." Abdulmutallab questioned Judge Edmunds as to what he needed to do to plead guilty. Judge Edmunds referred Abdulmutallab to Chambers. Abdulmutallab also waived his right to a speedy trial. The hearing lasted less than 15 minutes. 

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (also referred to as Umar Abdul Mutallab and Omar Farooq al-Nigeri; born December 22, 1986, in Lagos, Nigeria) is a Muslim Nigerian citizen who attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board a Airbus A330-323E, Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, on December 25, 2009. 

He was subsequently charged on six criminal counts, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder of 289 people. He is in U.S. custody, awaiting further legal proceedings. Abdulmutallab, who is being held at a prison in Milan, Michigan, has told officials that he got the explosive materials from a bomb expert in Yemen who was affiliated with Al Qaeda. The chemicals and a syringe had been sewn into Mr. Abdulmutallab?s underwear.


On Christmas Day 2009, Abdulmutallab traveled to Amsterdam, where he boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route to Detroit. He had purchased his ticket with cash in Ghana on December 16. Prior to boarding the plane eyewitnesses Kurt Haskell and Lori Haskell testified live on CNN that they witnessed a "smartly dressed Indian man" helping Abdulmutallab onto the plane. They also testify that the ticket agent refused to allow Abdulmutallab on the plane because he did not have his own passport. 

Abdulmutallab spent about 20 minutes in the bathroom as it approached Detroit, and then covered himself with a blanket after returning to his seat. Other passengers then heard popping noises, smelled a foul odor, and some saw Abdulmutallab?s trouser leg and the wall of the plane on fire. Fellow passenger Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch film director, jumped on Abdulmutallab and subdued him as flight attendants used fire extinguishers to douse the flames. 

Abdulmutallab was taken toward the front of the airplane cabin, was seen to have lost his trousers due to the fire, and had burns on his legs. When asked by a flight attendant what he had in his pocket, he replied: ?Explosive device.? The device consisted of a six-inch (15-cm) packet which was sewn into his underwear containing the explosive powder PETN, which became a plastic explosive when mixed with the high explosive triacetone triperoxide (TAPN) (the same two explosives that were used by Richard Reid in 2001), and a syringe containing liquid acid. Abdulmutallab created the explosive by mixing PETN with TAPN and other ingredients. 

After being taken into custody, Abdulmutallab told authorities he had been directed by al Qaeda, and that he had obtained the device in Yemen. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the organization's affiliate in Yemen, subsequently claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as revenge for the United States' role in a Yemeni military offensive against al Qaeda in that country. 

Abdulmutallab, Federal Bureau of Prisons Register# 44107-039, is in Federal Correctional Institution, Milan, a federal prison in York Charter Township, Michigan. Abdulmutallab was charged on December 26, 2009, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, with two criminal counts: attempting to blow up and placing a destructive device on a U.S. civil aircraft. 

Two days after the attack, Abdulmutallab was released from a hospital where he had been treated for first and second degree burns to his hands, and second degree burns to his right inner thigh and genitalia, sustained during the attempted bombing. Additional charges were added in a grand jury indictment on January 6, 2010, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder of 289 people. He is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution, Milan, Michigan, while awaiting further legal proceedings. If he is convicted on the charges, he will face a life sentence plus 90 years in prison. 

Abdulmutallab initially cooperated with investigators, and then stopped talking. The decision to read him his Miranda rights, advising him of his right to remain silent, generated criticism from a number of mostly Republican politicians. After the FBI brought two of Abdulmutallab's relatives from Nigeria to the U.S. to speak with him, he once again began to cooperate.


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