DETROIT (WXYZ) - In a surprising move, accused "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab decided to plead guilty in Federal Court.
During a 2:00 p.m. news conference US Attorney Barbara McQuade called the guilty plea "very gratifying" and said Abdulmutallab will spend the rest of his life in prison. She also commended the law enforcement personnel who investigated the case and the passengers who helped subdue Abdulmutallab and prevented any loss of life on Christmas Day 2009.
McQuade also said that this case proves, that while there are exceptions, terrorism cases belong in civil courts. “I think the American criminal justice system is an effective way to bring terrorists to justice, and we are vigilant in preventing attacks,” said McQuade.
She also said that Abdulmutallab does not represent the Muslims that she knows in the community, and that Abdulmutallab is someone who "distorts Islam" for his own purposes.
During the news conference FBI Special Agent in Charge for Detroit Andrew Arena said about the plea, "I didn't see this one coming." He then went on to say that while they were criticized for their handling of the case, that his agents stepped up and got the case closed.
“They came to the airport, the stepped up and defended this country… Putting someone in military custody that day was not an option, that’s not my call, that wasn’t the call of anyone up here, so we operated under the rules of engagement under the U.S. Constitution we swore to uphold,” said Arena.
“We wanted to continue the trial. But we respect his decision. Certainly no lawyer worth his weight in salt would recommend a plea to life without parole,” said Abdulmutallab’s stand-in counsel, Anthony Chambers. “It’s a situation where he just reflected on what had occurred and what he thought was the best decision. There’s nothing in particular that caused this to happen.”
Abdulmutallab faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison after pleading guilty to all 8 counts against him – including attempted use of weapon of mass destruction.
Read Abdulmutallab's guilty plea and statement below:
In the name of Allah, the most merciful, if I were to say I the Father did not do it, but my Son did it and he conspired with the Holy Spirit to do it, or if I said I did it but the American people are guilty of the sin, and Obama should pay for the crime, the Court wouldn't accept that from me or anyone else.
In late 2009, in fulfillment of a religious obligation, I decided to participate in jihad against the United States. The Koran obliges every able Muslim to participate in jihad and fight in the way of Allah, those who fight you, and kill them wherever you find them, some parts of the Koran say, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
I had an agreement with at least one person to attack the United States in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel and in retaliation of the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Palestine, especially in the blockade of Gaza, and in retaliation for the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond, most of them women, children, and noncombatants.
As a result, I traveled to Yemen and eventually to the United States, and I agreed with at least one person to carry an explosive device onto an aircraft and attempt to kill those onboard and wreck the aircraft as an act of jihad against the United States for the U.S. killing of my Muslim brothers and sisters around the world.
I was greatly inspired to participate in jihad by the lectures of the great and rightly guided Mujahedeen who is alive, Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, may Allah preserve him and his family and give them victory, Amin, and Allah knows best.
Participation in jihad against the United States is considered among the most virtuous of deeds in Islam and is highly encouraged in the Koran; however, according to U.S. law, which is unjust and oppressive according to the Koran, my actions make me guilty of a crime in the United States, in particular, the following counts in my indictment.
Count 1, conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, so by me traveling to Yemen, then to Djibouti, to Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, the Netherlands, and eventually the United States, with an agreement with at least one person to carry an explosive device in an attempt to kill those onboard for the U.S. killing of innocent Muslims, I'm guilty in U.S. law of this count.
Count 2, possession of a firearm or destructive device in the furtherance of a crime of violence, I carried with me an explosive device onto Northwest 253, again, to avenge the killing of my innocent Muslim brothers and sisters by the U.S. So I am guilty in U.S. law of this count.
Count 3, attempted murder within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, again, in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel and Israel massacres of innocent Palestinians, so I am guilty of this count, too.
Count 4, use and carrying of a firearm, destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence by carrying an explosive device and attempting to3 use it on Flight 253 for the U.S. killing of innocent Muslims; I am guilty of this count, too.
Count 5, willfully placing a destructive device in and upon, in proximity to a civil aircraft which was used and operated in interstate, overseas, and foreign air commerce which was likely to have endangered the safety of such aircraft, I intentionally carried an explosive device onto Flight 253, for the United States tyranny and oppression of Muslims, so I am guilty of this count in U.S. law, but not in the Koran.
Count 6, possession of a firearm/destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence. I was in possession of an explosive device intended for use against the United States for U.S. interference in Muslim countries, so I am guilty in U.S. law of this count.
Count 7, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, I attempted to use an explosive device which in the U.S. law is a weapon of mass destruction, which I call a blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims, for U.S. use of weapons of mass destruction on Muslim populations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and beyond. So I am guilty in U.S. law of this count and innocent in Muslim law.
Count 8, willful attempt to destroy and wreck a civil aircraft, I intended to wreck a civil aircraft for the U.S. wreckage of Muslim lands and property, so I am guilty in U.S. law of this count.
The United States -- the United States should be warned that if they continue and persist in promoting the blasphemy of Muhammad and the prophets, peace be upon them all, and the U.S. continues to kill and support those who kill innocent Muslims, then the U.S. should await a great calamity that will befall them through the hands of the Mujahedeen soon by God's willing permission. Or God will strike them directly with a great calamity soon by his will, Amin.
If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later in this life and on the Day of Judgment by God's will, and our final call is all praise to Allah, the lord of the universe, Allahu Akbar.
Follow Michael Rosenfield's blog recap of the trial below:
Wednesday October 12, 2011
BLOG: MOST RECENT UPDATES TOP DOWN
Judge is explaining to jurors that Abdulmutallab has pled guilty; she thanks them for service; the jurors are excused.
Abdulmutallab says "Allah al akbar" as he leaves court.
Judge accepts pleas. Sentencing set for January 12th at 2:00pm
Abdumutallab tells Tukel he admits carrying the explosive device in his underwear.
Abdulmutallab is being questioned by U.S attorney Jonathan Tukel. Abdumutallab says he admits pushing the plunger in the syringe.
Abdulmutallab says US should be warned if US continues to kill innocent Muslims, the country should await a great calamity or God will strike them directly. If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later.
Abdulmutallab says he is guilty under U.S. law, but not under the Koran.
He says he did it as retaliation for U.S. support of Israel and the killing of innocent Muslim civilians in several countries.
Abdulmutallab says he did it as a "virtuous deed" to engage in Jihad against the United States.
Abdulmutallab is asked to explain what he did. It seems like he has a prepared statement.
10 :22 a.m. Abdulmutallab pleads guilty to count 8, the final charge.
10:21 a.m. Abdulmutallab pleads guilty to count 7.
Abdulmutallab pleads guilty to count 6.
Abdulmutallab pleads guilty to count 5.
10:18 a.m. Abdumutallab pleads guilty to count 4
Abdumutallab pleads guilty to count 3.
Abdumutallab pleads guilty to counts 1 and 2.
Penalties for the crimes include life in prison.
Judge is reading the penalties for each of the 8 charges.
Abdulmutallab says he understands he could be deported.
Abdulmutalalb says he understands he is pleading guilty to felonies. He understands he is waiving his rights.
Judge is reading Abdulmutallab his rights, including right to a trial and that he is presumed innocent.
Judge says she finds him competent.
Abdulmutallab is talking to the judge about his education background. He is now 25 years old. He says he has never been treated for drug or alcohol addiction.
Judge asking Abdulmutallab questions. He is under oath. He says he understands he wants to plead guilty.
Abdulmutallab is being sworn in to plead guilty.
BREAKING: Abdulmutallab wants to plead guilty!
9:57 a.m. Players are back in court. We are waiting for the judge.
9:36 a.m. SCOOP: Remember the Nigerian woman who was selected for the jury and at the last moment she was removed from the panel and another juror was chosen? A source tells me the woman never thought she would make the final panel, but she did. She survived jury questioning and all of the challenges from both sides. My source says when she made the final panel, she got scared. She comes from the northern part of the country where Abdulmutallab is from. Like manyof the prospective jurors, we learned during jury questioning that many of them were scared of possible retaliation when a verdict will eventually be reached. Well, after getting selected, the Nigerian woman called the judge and said she did not want to take part and the judge allowed it.
9:04 a.m. When court resumes, we will likely hear again from passenger Michael Zantow. He was in the middle of his testimony when court ended for the day Tuesday. He currently lives in Wisconsin. In 2009, he was working in the Middle East. He flew back to Wisconsin on Christmas Day to visit his sick mother. He was originally sitting directly behind Abdulmutallab, but switched seats early in the flight and ended up sitting one row behind and in the aisle instead of the window.
9:00 a.m. The judge says a matter has come up that needs attention and the court will be in recess until 9:45 a.m. Like yesterday, another slow start.
Tuesday October 11, 2011
12:59 p.m. Court is adjourned until tomorrow. Riveting! The court schedule for the trial will be 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. every day.
12:58 p.m. Zantow says he helped guide Abdulmutallab to the floor. At that point, Abdulmutallab had jean/cargo pants down to his knees and underwear "that resembled something I had never seen before." They were bulky and looked like "adult pampers."
12:56 p.m. There was no reaction from Abdulmutallab. He never said anything according to Zantow. Passengers were trying to get his pants down to see what was going on. They laid Abdulmutallab on the floor.
12:53 p.m. Zantow says a male flight attendant asked what was going on. Passengers came up to assist. Zantow saw smoke coming from the floor area of 19A, Abdulmutallab's seat. There was smoke rising from between his legs.
12:51 p.m. Zantow says he was watching the map on screen, and that the plane was over Lake St. Clair when Abdulmutallab came back to his seat. He saw Abdulmutallab put a blanket over his head. Four or five minutes later there was a "large pop" that sounded like a firecracker. Zantow wasn't sure at first where the noise came from. The passenger next to Abdulmutallab yelled "hey man, hey dude, your pants are on fire."
12:50 p.m. Less than an hour before landing, Zantow says he saw Abdulmutallab go to the restroom. He says Abdulmutallab took a carryon bag from the overhead compartment, put it on the floor, and took a plastic bag with toiletries from it, then went to the bathroom. He came back to his seat about 10-15 minutes later.
12:48 p.m. The plane had a 2-4-2 seating arrangement.
12:45 p.m. Zantow was supposed to have been sitting directly behind Abdulmutallab, but because of the switch was at a diagonal.
12:38 p.m. He was in 20A. He was coming to Wisconsin to visit his sick mother. He was still living and working in the Middle East at the time. He switched to 20C early in the flight. His name is Mike Zantow, but I'm not sure on the spelling.
12:34 p.m. First witness is being called. He lives in Wisconsin. He had been working in the Middle East working on military equipment. He also served 26 years in the U.S. Army. He was a passenger on 253.
12:15 p.m. Neither Abdulmutallab nor his standby counsel will give an opening statement now. They can do it later. The first witness will be called after a short break.
12:13 p.m. Wow that was dramatic. Tukel has wrapped up his opening statement. Amazing details into final minutes of flight, and how Abdulmutallab tried to pull off his mission. Tells jury Abdulmutallab is guilty of 8 charges against him.
12:09 p.m. Agents analyzed Abdulmutallab's shoes. They found a slip of paper with an encryption code that al Qaeda uses. It was a password so he could communicate with al Qaeda before boarding the plane according to Tukel.
12:06 p.m. About 76 ounces of chemical PETN did not burn. FBI determined actual device had about 200 grams of PETN based on their re-creation of the bomb.
12:04 p.m. Tukel says bomb was made of a syringe with chemicals that were to cause a small explosion and then a big explosion. For some reason, only the small explosion took place.
12:01 p.m. Abdulmutallab is grilled by security in Amsterdam, where he lies to many questions. Says nobody gave him anything to take on board; says he spent time with family in Nigeria; says he was going to US to spend time with high school friends.
11:59 a.m. Tukel shows photo of underwear after explosion. Says the underwear had a pouch sewn in with PETN inside, the main charge of the explosive. He got through airport security in Yemen, Ghana and Nigeria.
11:58 a.m. Abdulmutallab didn't care where in the U.S. he was going. He tried making reservations to Houston and Chicago, but ended up with Detroit.
11:56 a.m. Abdulmutallab flew from Yemen to Ghana to Nigeria to Amsterdam.
11:53 a.m. Abdulmutallab had three missions: destroy an aircraft, it had to be a U.S. airliner, and it had to happen over U.S. soil
11:49 a.m. Tukel says Abdumutallab was perfect candidate for the mission because he spoke fluent English, was a world traveler, had a valid passport, and a valid U.S. visa.
11:45 a.m. Tukel says Abdulmutallab went to the best schools and came from a wealthy family. His father owns a bank in Nigeria. Tukel says Abdulmutallab chose to "seek Jihad". He recorded a "martyrdom video" before he left on his mission to blow up Flight 253.
11:42 a.m. Abdulmutallab tells UM nurse "That was martyrdom" about his actions.
11:40 a.m. Abdulmutallab says he was trained by Abu Tarak. And he was told the bomb maker was Saudi Arabian. Abdulmutallab was told the bomb would not be detected by the airports. He received the bomb in Yemen on December 6 or 7.
11:38 a.m. Abdulmutallab is taken to UM hospital for his burns. FBI brought in. Agents want to know if there are other plots. Abdulmutallab tells him about his plot and goes into detail for 50 minutes.
11:35 a.m. Tukel says Abdulmutallab tells officer it was a "bomb", that he wanted to "bring down the plane over U.S. soil", that he had the device "in my underwear" and he got the device from "Yemen." He also says he is involved with "al Qaeda."
11:32 a.m. Customs and Border Protection officer comes on board. At this point he only know a firecracker has gone off. Officer know right away based on burns that it was not a firecracker. Officer takes Abdulmutallab to holding cell.
11:31 a.m. Plane lands within minutes of bomb going off.
11:30 a.m. Plane is coming in quickly and flight attendants tell passengers to take any available seat.
11:26 a.m. Pilots told Air Traffic Control there was a pop, and that it was firecrackers. That's what the crew thought at that point.
11:24 a.m. Tukel says everything is much more dangerous for passengers in the air on other flights as planes need to take different routes and clear the air space.
11:22 a.m. Southwest Flight 631 is told to move out of the way as it approaches. Flight 253 pilots ask for fire trucks to be ready.
11:21 a.m. The descent is much quicker than a normal landing. It's an 8-mile approach, rather than a 24-mile approach.
11:19 a.m. Plane descends quickly, and told to make a "quick, sharp" turn. Flight 253 is at 3000 feet from 5800 feet in one minute.
11:17 a.m. My times by the way are my post times on the blog, not when the action is happening on board.
11:16 a.m. Air traffic controller clears airspace. Neither she nor pilots know exactly what happened, except that there was a fire.
11:14 a.m. Some of the radio communication happend over Woodhaven and over Telegraph Road. The drama happens minutes after plane is in U.S. airspace. Point of detonation is almost right over Telegraph Road.
11:12 a.m. Tukel plays radio communication saying "Northwest 253, there's a report of a fire." Co-pilot says that to ground crew. This will be played again during testimony.
11:09 a.m Tukel going over diagrams of Metro Airport. Two other flights were ahead of 253 to land, including a Southwest flight.
11:07: a.m. Flight 253 declares an emergency and makes a steep descent to land quickly. Tukel says we will hear the radio communication.
11:05 a.m. Lead flight attendant named Elaine Christmas tells pilots about the fire.
11:02: a.m. Abdulmutallab told passenger in row 1 and a flight attendant that he had an "explosive device" when they engaged him in conversation. Other passengers hear this.
11:00 a.m. This all happened minutes before the flight was supposed to land at Metro. As he was walked to 1G, part of the explosive fell from his pants in row 13.
10:56 a.m. There was a lot of panic on the plane, according to Tukel. A flight attendant got a fire extinguisher and put out the fire, after several passengers had already tried to put it out. Another flight attendant joined. After the fire, a flight attendant and a passenger placed Abdulmutallab in Business Class in seat 1G
10:54 a.m. Tukel is listing the passengers who saw most of the drama, and who tried to help put out the fire.
10:51 a.m. Tukel says rows 16-24 was where all the action was. Abdulmutallab was in 19A, a window.
10:50 a.m. Tuckel says "all hell broke loose" when Abdulmutallab set off a bomb on board. Prior, Abdulmutallab spent much time in the bathroom preparing to die. He prayed, he brushed his teeth, he put on perfume.
10:46 a.m. Passengers and crew were from 26 different countries, with 130 passengers from the United States.
10:45 a.m. Tukel explains Flight 253 was a Northwest flight, but had Delta logos as the merger was not yet complete. There were 279 passengers, 8 flight attendants, 1 pilot and 2 co-pilots.
10:42 a.m. Assistant U.S. attorney Jonathan Tukel begins opening statement.
10:34 a.m. Judge explaining to jury that the government must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Jurors are not to discuss the case with anyone throughout the trial; they are not to watch media reports; jurors are not to research case; jurors are not to form an opinion until all the evidence is in.
10:29 a.m. Judge giving jury instructions. The evidence will include testimony, documents and exhibits. Statements by attorneys, arguments and objections are NOT evidence. The opening statement is NOT evidence. Testimony that is excluded by the judge is NOT evidence.
10:28 a.m. Judge does not say what the lengthy recess was about.
10:24 a.m. Court is about to begin again.
10:11 a.m. The wheels of justice...still in recess. Day 1 off to a slow start.
9:44 a.m. The tech guys at Federal Court are great. All of the reporters were having so many internet connection problems that the IT guys just did something and now it seems to work really well!!
9:42 a.m. We are still in a recess. We have not even had opening arguments yet.
9:22 a.m. Passenger Lori Haskell is in the courtroom. Her husband Kurt, also a passenger, will be a witness for the defense. I interviewed the Haskells a number of times. They contend there was some sort of conspiracy to blow up the plane. The Haskells run a law practice in Wayne County.
9:19 a.m. Lots of internet connection problems and the reporters are frustrated. By the way, just to give you some background on the case if you're not familiar with it, the 24-year-old Nigerian man is accused of trying to blow up Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit back on Christmas Day, 2009.
9:15 a.m. We are already in a recess. The judge says Abdulmutallab needs to discuss something with Chambers.
9:05 a.m. Abdulmutallab's standby counsel Anthony Chambers is asking the judge to not allow a photo of Abdumutallab's burned genital area to be shown to jurors.
9:00 a.m. The defendant was brought into court promptly at 9:00 a.m.
8:51 a.m. The day of attempted bombing on board Flight 253 I interviewed several of the passengers. Wondering now if any of them will be witnesses.
8:40 a.m. Covering this trial is full circle for me. I was working Christmas Day, 2009...it was supposed to be a quiet holiday for a reporter on duty...then I got a call from Tracy on our assignment desk saying something was going on onboard a flight coming into Metro Airport.
8:38 a.m. It's good to put a face with a voice. Steve Futterman from CBS Radio is sitting in front of me.
8:23 a.m. Hi this is Michael Rosenfield and if my internet connection holds up I'll be live blogging today from the 'underwear bomber' trial. This is Day One.
There is media from around the world here.
I'm sitting in between a reporter from Bloomberg News and Agence France Presse. Maybe I'll be able to practice my French during breaks!
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