Jury Selection Starts in Trial of Underwear Bomber

Posted October 4th, 2011 at 10:20 am (UTC-5)
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Jury selection has started in the midwestern American city of Detroit for the trial of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, 2009.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has become known as “the underwear bomber” because prosecutors say he concealed the explosives in his underwear during the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Abdulmutallab appeared in court for the first day of jury selection Tuesday wearing an oversized white T-shirt. The judge immediately ordered him to change into a shirt with a collar, and he left the courtroom briefly to do so.

Abdulmutallab was arrested after being subdued by passengers on board the Northwest Airlines flight who saw his clothing on fire.

The 24-year-old Nigerian is facing eight counts, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism. U.S. investigators believe Abdulmutallab received training from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.

Abdulmutallab has pleaded not guilty and is representing himself since firing his court-appointed defense attorneys in September.

He has been appointed a standby lawyer to provide legal advice.

When Abdulmutallab flew to Detroit, his name was in a broad database of individuals who were suspected of having some link to terrorism. But he was not on higher-profile watch lists that might have caught the attention of security screeners.