Nigerian Accused of Failed US Plane Attack Pleads Guilty

Posted October 12th, 2011 at 12:55 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up an American airliner in 2009 with a bomb in his underwear has pleaded guilty.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab admitted Wednesday to the eight charges against him for the failed Christmas Day attack. The plea came on the second day of testimony in his trial in the U.S. city of Detroit.

He told the court that his actions were in retaliation for the killing of what he called innocent Muslims in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Prosecutor Jonathan Tukel said Tuesday Abdulmutallab wanted to achieve martyrdom and was on the flight for one reason – to kill all 290 people on board, including himself, as part of an al-Qaida mission.

Abdulmutallab faces life in prison. He is to be sentenced in January.

The charges against him included conspiracy to commit terrorism, attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction for trying to bring down the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on December 25, 2009.

Passengers and crew members subdued Abdulmutallab after he tried to detonate the explosives in his underwear as the plane prepared to land. The explosives instead caught fire, leaving him with severe burns.

Abdulmutallab was acting as his own lawyer, but relying on a court-appointed standby attorney to handle much of the courtroom work. The attorney, Anthony Chambers, declined to make an opening statement Tuesday.

Tukel told the court Tuesday Abdulmutallab incriminated himself by telling passengers, crew members, and U.S. authorities on the ground that he had tried to blow up the plane on behalf of al-Qaida. He also showed jurors images from a video made before the incident that he said shows al-Qaida taking credit for the failed bombing and Abdulmutallab urging fellow Muslims to engage in holy war.

Abdulmutallab had made several outbursts during jury selection, proclaiming allegiance to al-Qaida and claiming that Yemen-based radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is still alive. The American-born Awlaki was killed last month in Yemen by a U.S. airstrike.

U.S. officials have blamed Abdulmatallab's plot on the Yemen-based branch of al-Qaida.