Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab The 'Underwear Bomber' Pleads GuiltyBy Shane Nolan
October 14, 2011 - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 25, of
Kaduna, Nigeria, the so-called "underwear
bomber," pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal
court to eight counts of terrorism-related charges.
Abdulmutallab faces a mandatory sentence of life in
Abdulmutallab, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, attempted murder within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, willfully placing a destructive device on an aircraft, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, willfully attempting to destroy and wreck a civil aircraft, and three counts of possession of a destructive device.
Abdulmutallab traveled to Yemen for the purpose of becoming involved in violent "jihad" on behalf of Al Qaeda. There, Abdulmutallab conspired with other Al Qaeda members to bomb a U.S. aircraft over U.S. soil and received an explosive device for that purpose.
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
Abdulmutallab's purpose in taking the bomb on board Flight 253
was to detonate it during flight, causing the plane to crash and
killing the 290 passengers and crew members on board.
On Christmas Day 2009, Abdulmutallab traveled from Ghana 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. Eyewitnesses Kurt Haskell and Lori Haskell told the Detroit News that prior to boarding the plane 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. These circumstances underlie
some of the passengers' speculations that the U.S. government supplied a
defective device to the perpetrator and a man in a tan suit with an
American accent intervened, the matter was referred to a manager, and
Abdulmutallab was then able to board the plane, presumably still without
spent about 20 minutes in the bathroom as the flight 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.
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.?
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
On March 24, 2011,
the Associated Press reported that Abdulmutallab chose to attack Detroit
because the plane ticket there was the least expensive out of tickets to
potential targets, which included Chicago and Houston. Initially, it was
rumored that Abdulmutallab tried to fly to Detroit because it was a
major hub of the U.S. automotive industry.
"This case demonstrates that civilian courts are an appropriate tool for bringing terrorists to justice," United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said. "Thanks to the hard work and professionalism of the law enforcement personnel and prosecutors who worked on this case, the defendant will spend the rest of his life in prison."
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