Nigerian Accused of Failed US Plane Attack Pleads Guilty

Posted October 12th, 2011 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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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 one day after opening statements in his trial in the U.S. city of Detroit.

The 24-year-old faced multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit terrorism, in connection with the failed December 25, 2009 attack on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

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

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 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 in court, 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. drone.