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Underwear bomber gets life: He never expressed doubt or remorse, judge says

Underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, sentenced to multiple life sentences, declared in federal court in Detroit: 'Mujahideen are proud to kill in the name of God.'  

By Staff writer / February 16, 2012

In this courtroom drawing, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab appears in US District Judge Nancy Edmunds' courtroom in Detroit, October 4, 2011. Edmunds sentenced the 25-year-old underwear bomber to multiple terms of life without parole on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012.

Jerry Lemenu/AP/File

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Admitted underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was sentenced on Thursday to spend the rest of his life in prison for his attempt to destroy a commercial jetliner in flight on Christmas Day 2009.

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Mr. Abdulmutallab faced a combination of four consecutive life sentences as well as an additional life sentence plus 60 years in prison after pleading guilty in October to all eight charges related to the Al Qaeda bomb plot.

There were 290 individuals on the Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines jetliner at the time of the planned bombing.

US District Judge Nancy Edmunds sentenced the 25-year-old Nigerian to multiple terms of life without parole.

“The defendant has never expressed any doubt or regret or remorse about his mission,” the judge said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “To the contrary, he sees that mission as divinely inspired and a continuing mission.”

The judge told Abdulmutallab that she could not control his future intentions and motives, but she could control any opportunity for him to attempt another suicide attack.

Speaking in federal court in Detroit, Abdulmutallab was defiant. “Today is a day of victory,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “Mujahideen are proud to kill in the name of God. And that is exactly what God told us to do in the Koran.”

During the hearing, prosecutors played a video tape prepared by the FBI laboratory showing the potential explosive force of Abdulmutallab’s device. During the demonstration, Abdulmutallab twice called out: “Allahu akbar,” which is Arabic for God is great.

The sentence is similar to the punishment given to admitted shoe bomber Richard Reid, who received three life sentences for his attempt in 2001 to detonate explosives in his shoes during a transatlantic flight to the US. That bomb also did not detonate.

Federal prosecutors had argued that Abdulmutallab represented a continuing threat to US citizens and was likely to attempt another suicide attack should the opportunity present itself. They said he should receive the maximum sentence – life in prison.

A court-appointed defense lawyer, Anthony Chambers of Detroit, said in court filings that life in prison was an excessive punishment given that no one but Adbulmutallab was injured during his failed bombing attempt. Mr. Chambers said sentencing Abdulmutallab to life in prison would violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Judge Edmunds rejected the argument.

In a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder praised the outcome of the case. He and other Obama administration officials had been criticized by Republicans for not turning Abdulmutallab over to the military for harsh interrogation.

The attorney general defended the FBI’s actions. “Today’s sentence once again underscores the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in both incapacitating terrorists and gathering valuable intelligence from them,” he said.

“Umar Farouk Adbulmutallab is a remorseless terrorist who believes it is his duty to kill Americans,” Holder said. “For attempting to take the lives of 289 innocent people, he has been appropriately sentenced to serve every day of the reset of his life in prison.”

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