Archive for February 16, 2012

COUNTERTERRORISM: ‘Underwear Bomber’ Sentenced

Life in Prison

A Nigerian man who pleaded guilty to trying to blow up a U.S. Airliner over Detroit with a bomb hidden in his underwear has been sentenced to life in prison.

U.S. Marshals photo via wikipedia

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 25, the so-called “Underwear Bomber,” pleaded guilty last Fall (Oct. 12) to eight terrorism and conspiracy charges in federal court in Detroit.

He was accused of attempting to detonate a bomb secreted in his underwear as a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam was beginning its descent over Michigan’s Detrotit Metropolitan Airport on Christmas Day 2009. According to a federal indictment, Abdulmutallab intended to blow up the plane, killing the other 289 people aboard the Airbus aircraft. The bomb he ignited failed to explode, however, and passengers and crew managed to subdue him and extinguished the blaze. He was the only one burned.

According to the eight-count indictment, Abdulmutallab traveled to Yemen to join violent jihad on behalf of al Qaeda. Federal prosecutors said Abdulmutallab, the son of a Nigerian banker who warned U.S. officials that his son may have become radicalized, was influenced by the fiery U.S.-born jihadist cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Alaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last September.

The bomb Abdulmutallab was given contained two high explosives, PETN and TATP, prosecutors said. They played a video in the courtroom (see it here) that demonstrated the explosive power of the device’s ingredients.

Abdulmutallab’s failed bombing attempt led to stricter – and controversial – passenger screening measures at U.S. airports. Because he successfully slipped his explosive device through airport security in Amsterdam and Nigeria, U.S. officials speeded up their deployment of whole body scanners that revealed what was beneath passengers’ clothes — including the passenger. The screening sparked complaints from civil liberties groups, conservative politicians and some parents of small children.

February 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment


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