'Underwear Bomber' Pleads Guilty

Oct 13, 2011, 08:16 by R.E. Christian

The "underwear bomber," Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, unexpectedly told a Detroit court Wednesday he was pleading guilty in his terror trial.

Abdulmutallab, a 24-year-old Nigerian and self-proclaimed al-Qaida operative, faces up to life in prison if convicted of a long list of charges, The Detroit News reported. The charges include attempted murder, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit terrorism.

The defendant, who represented himself, pleaded guilty to eight charges after a 45-minute recess, the News reported.

The newspaper said U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds asked Abdulmutallab if he wanted to waive his right to a trial and plead guilty, and he replied, "That's right."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has done battle with critics who say the U.S. civilian courts -- as opposed to military tribunals -- are not the proper venue for terror trials, said the Detroit case shows the courts are "effective."

"Contrary to what some have claimed, today's plea removes any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe," Holder said in a statement. "Our priority in this case was to ensure that we arrested a man who tried to do us harm, that we collected actionable intelligence from him and that we prosecuted him in a way that was consistent with the rule of law. 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."

The prosecution had opened the trial Tuesday with a detailed narrative of the terror attack.

Abdulmutallab brushed his teeth and donned cologne in the bathroom as Northwest Airlines Flight 263 approached Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel said in his opening statement.

"He was purifying himself to get ready to die," Tukel said.

The only witness to testify Tuesday said he thought Abdulmutallab was wearing adult diapers. Michael Zantow, a U.S. Air Force contractor sitting one row behind Abdulmutallab on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, told the jury he saw the defendant cover himself with a blanket shortly before hearing a loud pop, the News said. The next thing he knew, Zantow said, a passenger sitting alongside Abdulmutallab exclaimed, "Hey dude, your pants are on fire!" and he saw smoke rising from Abdulmutallab's lap toward the cabin ceiling.

Zantow said several passengers rushed Abdulmutallab and subdued him.

"His underwear resembled something I hadn't seen before," Zantow said. "It was bulky, it reminded me of my son's Pull-Ups. I assumed it was adult Pampers."

Tukel told jurors Abdulmutallab was from a well-off family and abandoned a life as a student when he turned to terrorism.

"He wanted jihad, and he sought it out and he found it," Tukel said.

Source: UPI