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Underwear Bomber Sentenced to Life

Nigerian who tried to blow up a flight near Detroit for al-Qaeda sentenced to life in prison without parole.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 2/16/2012, 10:32 PM

Abdulmutallab
Abdulmutallab
US Marshals Office/EPA


A 25-year-old Nigerian who tried to blow up an international flight near Detroit was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009.

The hearing before federal Judge Nancy Edmunds was an open platform for passengers and crew of who wanted to speak.

Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty in October and said he had been on a suicide mission for al-Qaeda. He had tried to detonate explosive chemicals hidden in his underwear just before the plane landed at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The device malfunctioned, but produced flames and smoke. He was overpowered by passengers, one of whom has since sued the terrorist and the airlines that allowed him to get on board. 

Abdulmutallab said he had been carrying a "blessed weapon" to avenge Muslims who have been killed around the world.

"The Quran obliges every able Muslim to participate in jihad and fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, and kill them wherever you find them ... an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," Abdulmutallab said.

An attorney appointed to assist Abdulmutallab, had urged the court not to allow a life sentence because no one but Abdulmutallab was hurt in the attack.

The government said, however, that unsuccessful terrorist attacks "still engender fear in the broader public, which, after all, is one of their main objectives." In addition, it said "the enormous cost of the augmented security measures adopted as a direct result of defendant's unsuccessful terrorist attack are borne by the American public at large in both increased cost, inconvenience and wasted time at airports."