More than two years after attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in midair at Christmastime with explosives sewn into his underwear, Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was sentenced to four life sentences
at the federal courthouse in Detroit on Thursday.
"The defendant has never expressed doubt or regret or remorse about his mission," U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds told the 25-year-old Nigerian student-turned-al-Qaida-operative during a 90-minute hearing in Detroit. "To the contrary, he sees that mission as divinely inspired and a continuing mission."
"I believe the defendant poses a significant ongoing threat to the safety of American citizens everywhere," Edmunds added, saying she couldn't control his motivations, but could control his opportunity to carry them out.
Abdulmutallab remained defiant. "The mujahideen are proud to kill in the name of God, and this is exactly what God told us to do in the Koran," he told Edmunds. "The situation of one who believes in Allah is always good ... it's always a win-win situation."
He laid into the U.S. government for oppressing Muslims worldwide and federal prosecutors in Detroit for misrepresenting the facts of the case "to achieve their evil goals."
He also insisted that Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, who sent him on the mission, are still alive. Both al-Qaida leaders were killed last year by U.S. forces.
Against [standby defense lawyer Anthony] Chambers' advice, Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty on the second day of trial last October to all counts, including conspiring to commit an act of terrorism, use of a weapon of mass destruction and carrying a firearm or destructive device during a crime of violence.
Although Nigerian-based islamist group Boko Haram has been increasingly active and lethal in their attacks since late 2011, Abdulmutallab confessed to FBI agents that he had been working with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula
in Yemen to help carry out the attack.
Abdulmutallab received the bomb, as well as training, from AQAP before travelling from Nigeria to Amsterdam.
There he boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit, which was carrying 279 passengers and 11 crew members.
The bomb was not picked up in security checks at airports in Lagos and Amsterdam.
On board, the bomb failed to detonate completely and passengers had to put out the fire.
Abdulmutallab's father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, an influential banker who is well connected in Nigerian politics, said he had approached the US embassy officials and Nigerian authorities in 2009 to warn them about his son.
Abdulmutallab was already on a US watch list, but not a no-fly list.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula was also thought the be behind an October 2010 plot that involved parcel bombs flown overseas from Yemen
with explosives hidden in ink and toner cartridges.
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