Federal Courthouse in Detroit where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, known as the underwear bomber, pled guilty to all charges against him October 12, 2011 at the Federal Courthouse in Detroit, Michigan. Michigan. Abdulmutallab, a 24 year-old Nigerian man accused of attempting to blow up Northwest 253 flight as it was landing in Detroit on Christmas day in 2009 is scheduled for sentencing in January 12, 2012. AFP
DETROIT (AFP) – A Nigerian man dubbed the “underwear bomber” pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying to blow up a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, saying he had sought to avenge the killing of Muslims.
In a six-minute speech to a shocked courtroom on the second day of his high profile-trial in Detroit, Michigan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab insisted his actions were righteous and that the true crime was US foreign policy.
“I am guilty of this count in US law but not in the Koran,” the 25-year-old Nigerian said as he confessed to trying to kill 289 people on a packed transatlantic airliner using explosives hidden in his underwear.
“The United States should be warned that if they continue and persist in promoting the blasphemy of Mohammed and the US continues to kill and support those who kill innocent Muslims then the US should await a great calamity through the hands of the Mujahedeen… or God.”
The botched plot, which US officials say was the work of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, failed because the explosives did not fully detonate and instead caused a fireball.
Passengers and crew members were able to restrain Abdulmutallab and put out the fire as the Northwest flight from Amsterdam made an emergency landing in Detroit on December 25, 2009.
Since many of the counts Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to carry mandatory minimum sentences of 30 years without parole which must be served consecutively, he is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The botched operation triggered global alarm and led the United States to adopt stringent new screening and security measures.
The reputation of the US intelligence services also took a hit because Abdulmutallab’s father, a prominent Nigerian banker, had warned the CIA about his son’s growing radicalization.
Republicans capitalized on the missteps and the revived fears to paint President Barack Obama as weak on terror, as well as to undermine his plans for shutting down Guantanamo Bay and prosecuting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other high-profile “enemy combatants” being held there in US civilian courts.
They are currently pushing legislation that would ensure that any terror suspects who are not US citizens be handed over to the military rather than be prosecuted by civil law enforcement and the courts.
Attorney General Eric Holder hailed the guilty plea for removing “any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe.”
“We will continue to be aggressive in our fight against terrorism and those who target us, and we will let results, not rhetoric, guide our actions,” Holder said in a statement.
Abdulmutallab told the court he “had an agreement with at least one person” to attack the US in retaliation for US support for Israel and in revenge for the killing of innocent Muslims in Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond.
“I carried with me an explosive device onto Flight Northwest 253, again to avenge my fellow Muslims,” said Abdulmutallab, who has confirmed that he traveled to Yemen for Al-Qaeda training prior to the attack.
“I attempted to use an explosive device, which under US law is called a weapon of mass destruction, which I call a blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims for the US used weapons of mass destruction on innocent Muslims,” he told the court.
“If I said I did it, but the American people are guilty of the sin and Obama should pay for the crime the court would not accept that,” he said.
“However, according to US law which is unjust… my actions make me guilty to a crime.”
Abdulmutallab is to be sentenced on January 12.
His court-appointed standby counsel said he had urged the young man to see the trial through in hopes of evading convictions on at least some of the eight charges.
However, Abdulmutallab was not interested in trying to avoid spending the rest of his life behind bars.
“He wanted to say something for some time and that was satisfying to him,” Chambers said.