The trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear
bomber, could have shed light on Anwar al-Awlaki and several
potentially significant pretrial rulings. But he pleaded guilty.
A Nigerian man accused of concealing a bomb in his underwear to
destroy a commercial jetliner on Christmas Day 2009 pleaded guilty
to all eight counts in his indictment on Wednesday.
The surprise move came on what would have been the second day of
his high-profile terrorism trial in federal court in Detroit.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was facing charges that he plotted with
Al Qaeda to carry out a martyrdom mission by blowing up a US
airliner with 292 people on board as it approached Detroit.
The bomb caught fire but did not explode.
Mr. Abdulmutallab, acting against the advice of his appointed
stand-by counsel, decided to end the trial as it was just beginning.
He read a statement in open court admitting responsibility for each
of the charges filed against him, including conspiracy to commit an
act of terrorism, attempting to destroy a civil aircraft, and
While acknowledging guilt under US law, he emphasized that his
actions were undertaken as part of a perceived religious obligation
in Islam to protect fellow Muslims from attack.
He warned that a "great calamity" would befall the United States
if it didn't stop killing innocent Muslims and stop supporting those
who kill innocent Muslims.
"If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later in this life
and on the day of judgment," Abdulmutallab told the court. "Our
final call is all praise to Allah, the lord of the universe. Allahu
Akbar [God is great]."
US District Judge Nancy Edmunds set sentencing for Jan. 12.
Abdulmutallab faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Given the circumstances of his failed bombing attack and the fact
that his alleged act of terrorism was witnessed by scores of fellow
passengers on the plane, Abdulmutallab's chances of an acquittal on
the main charges were virtually nonexistent.
In addition, he confessed significant details of the plot -
including contacts with Al Qaeda allies in Yemen - to Federal Bureau
of Investigation agents shortly after the attack.
Judge Edmunds ruled before the trial that the jury would be
permitted to hear testimony about his admissions.
The guilty plea means that none of Judge Edmunds's pretrial
rulings will be appealed and examined by a panel of judges.
In a significant pretrial decision, the judge found that FBI
agents were "fully justified" in not giving Miranda warnings to
Abdulmutallab during an initial 50-minute interrogation seeking
actionable intelligence about whether other underwear bombers might
be on their way to the US.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said the guilty plea was more
evidence of his often-repeated assertion that the federal courts are
well-suited to prosecute terrorism suspects. …