Detroit: A Nigerian man accused of trying to
bring down an international jetliner with a bomb in his
underwear walked into the start of his federal trial on Tuesday and
declared that a radical Islamic cleric killed by the US
military is alive.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's outburst came as jury
selection got under way for his federal terror trial in
Detroit, where the 24-year-old is acting as his own attorney
and has previously told reporters they should stop reporting
that Osama bin Laden was dead.
"Anwar is alive," Abdulmutallab said today, referring to
American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed last week
by a joint CIA-US military air strike in Yemen.
"The mujahadeen will wipe out the US -- the cancer US," he
Abdulmutallab, a well-educated Nigerian from an
upper-class family, was directed in the attack by al-Awlaki
and wanted to become a martyr when he boarded Northwest
Airlines Flight 253 in Amsterdam a Christmas 2009, according
to the government.
Abdulmutallab, who complained loudly at a previous hearing
about having to wear prison clothes, came into the courtroom
today wearing an oversized prison T-shirt.
US District Judge Nancy Edmunds called a brief recess to
allow him to change into clothes more appropriate for court,
after acknowledging and denying his apparent request to wear a
"Yemeni belt with a dagger".
The judge has denied several of Adulmutallab's requests
for the trial, including that the case be judged under Islamic
Abdulmutallab has pleaded not guilty to eight charges,
including conspiracy to commit terrorism and attempted use of
a weapon of mass destruction.
The government says he wanted to blow up the plane by
detonating chemicals in his underwear, just seven minutes
before the jet carrying 279 passengers and a crew of 11 was to
land at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
But the bomb didn't work, and passengers assisted by crew
members saw flames and pounced on Abdulmutallab.
The failed suicide attack, the first act of terrorism in
the US during the Obama administration, revealed the rise of a
dangerous al Qaeda affiliate and al-Awlaki's growing
The government says Abdulmutallab willingly explained the
plot twice, first to US border officers who took him off the
plane and then in more detail to FBI agents who interviewed
him at a hospital for 50 minutes, following treatment for
serious burns to his groin.
Abdulmutallab told authorities he trained in Yemen, home
base for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
First Published: Tuesday, October 04, 2011, 23:49