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'Underwear bomber' pleads guilty to failed plane attack

Umar Abdulmutallab said the bomb he tried to detonate over Detroit was a “blessed weapon to save innocent Muslims”.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in 2009
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in 2009
Image: AP Photo/US Marshals Service

A NIGERIAN MAN pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to bring down an international flight over Detroit with a bomb in his underwear, saying the failed attack was retaliation for the killing of Muslims worldwide.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had never denied the accusations against him, calmly answered questions from judge Nancy Edmunds before pleading guilty on the second day of his trial to all eight charges he faced, including conspiracy to commit terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

He then told the court that the underwear bomb was a “blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims.”

“The United States should be warned that if they continue to persist and promote the blasphemy of Mohammed and the prophets … the United States should await a great calamity that will befall them through the hands of the mujahedeen soon,” said Abdulmutallab, who faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

“If you laugh with us now we will laugh with you later on the day of judgement,” he said.

Outside court, defence attorney Anthony Chambers said Abdulmutallab, who had chosen to represent himself and was being assisted by Chambers, pleaded guilty against the lawyer’s wishes.

“We wanted to continue the trial but we respect his decision,” Chambers said.

Scorched shorts

Abdulmutallab, 25, said he carried a bomb in his underwear onto Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009 with the intention of killing the nearly 300 people on board. The bomb didn’t work, and passengers jumped on Abdulmutallab when they saw smoke and fire.

The evidence was stacked high. Abdulmutallab was badly burned on a plane full of witnesses. The government said he told FBI agents he was working for al-Qaida and directed by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical, American-born Muslim cleric recently killed by the US in Yemen. There were also photos of his scorched shorts as well as video of Abdulmutallab explaining his suicide mission before departing for the US.

“Contrary to what some have claimed, today’s plea removes any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a Wednesday statement. “We will continue to be aggressive in our fight against terrorism and those who target us, and we will let results, not rhetoric, guide our actions.”

Passenger Lori Haskell, 34, of Newport, Mich., watched Abdulmutallab’s plea by video in an overflow room Wednesday. She called his statement in court “chilling” but not surprising.

“I’m just really relieved that it’s done with,” Haskell said.

Read more: Alleged Christmas Day bomber to represent self at trial>

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Associated Press

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