With guilty plea, underwear bomber cuts short intriguing terror trial
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.
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“Umar Farouk Abdulmatallab’s guilty plea continues the US federal courts’ long track record of successfully bringing to justice the most heinous international terrorists who threaten the United States,” she said. “It also makes clear – yet again – that terrorism cases belong in our nation’s federal courts.”Skip to next paragraph
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As outlined in their opening statement, federal prosecutors were prepared to detail for jurors Abdulmutallab’s path from his privileged upbringing as the son of a wealthy Nigerian businessman to a would-be martyr, willing to blow himself up over Detroit to help Al Qaeda wage holy war against the US.
They said the young man could have pursued any path in life, but became intensely interested in Islam after hearing the fiery sermons of US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
“I was greatly inspired to participate in jihad by the lectures of the great and rightly-guided mujahedeen [holy warrior] who is alive, Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki,” he said in his courtroom statement.
Abdulmutallab had claimed Mr. Awlaki is alive despite evidence that he was killed in a US drone attack in Yemen on Sept. 30.
Abdulmutallab had traveled to Yemen in 2009 where he sought out Al Qaeda allies and eventually met a Saudi bombmaker who provided him a route to martyrdom.
After receiving training, Abdulmutallab left Yemen wearing a bomb specially built to avoid detection by airport security machines. According to his statement in court, after his stay in Yemen he traveled to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Netherlands, where he boarded Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit.
He said his Al Qaeda mission was undertaken “as an act of jihad against the United States for the US killing of my Muslim brothers and sisters around the world.”
In admitting his involvement in the plot, Abdulmutallab said: “I had an agreement with at least one person to attack the United States in retaliation for US support of Israel and in retaliation of the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Palestine, especially the blockade of Gaza.”
He added his attack was also retaliation for “the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and beyond, most of them women, children, and noncombatants.”