Nigerian Accused of Failed US Plane Attack Pleads Guilty

Posted October 12th, 2011 at 2:00 pm (UTC-5)
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The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up an American airliner with a bomb in his underwear has pleaded guilty to all charges against him.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab faces life in prison for the failed 2009 Christmas Day attack.

He pleaded guilty Wednesday to the eight charges against him, including conspiracy to commit terrorism, attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction The plea came on the second day of testimony in his trial in Detroit, Michigan.

Abdulmutallab said that by participating in jihad against the United States, he was fulfilling his religious duty and avenging the killings of, in his words, innocent Muslims in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the plea removes any doubt that U.S. courts are one of the most effective tools the United States has to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe.

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

Abdulmutallab was subdued by passengers and crew after his explosives failed to detonate as the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on December 25, 2009 was preparing to land. The explosives instead caught fire, leaving him with severe burns.

He is to be sentenced in January.

Abdulmutallab was acting as his own lawyer, but relying on a court-appointed standby attorney to handle much of the courtroom work.

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.