'Underwear bomber,' seeming unrepentant, to be sentenced today
The man dubbed the "underwear bomber" faces a sentence of life in prison Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit for trying to blow up an international flight on Christmas Day 2009 using a bomb hidden in his underwear.
Prosecutors are seeking the harshest penalty possible, arguing that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab remains unrepentant and defiant and would attack the United States again if given the chance.
A court-appointed criminologist who interviewed the defendant said he actually was encouraged by his failure to blow up the jetliner on Christmas Day.
"The failed martyrdom mission, in his mind, is no more than a possible test of patience imposed on him by God," Israeli criminologist Simon Perry, who has studied Islamic suicide bombers, said in a court report quoted by the Christian Science Monitor. "One can interpret this rhetoric as meaning that he has not given up on aspirations to martyrdom."
On paper, the sentencing appears routine. After all, Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to eight felonies in October and knew that a life prison term was to be expected.
But little about this case has been routine. Abdulmutallab's guilty plea was an abrupt disruption to the trial and came against the wishes of his defense team.
The Nigerian defendant and admitted Al Qaeda operative accepted responsibility but continued to justify his failed attack on the United States. The federal court case has been marked by Abdulmutallab's repeated outbursts, and he has repeatedly mocked the United States and warned the country that its judgment day was near.
"The United States should be warned that if they continue to persist and promote the blasphemy of Muhammad and the prophets," Abdulmutallab said as he entered his guilty plea, "the United States should await a great calamity that will befall them through the hands of the mujahedin soon."
The jetliner that Abdulmutallab tried to blow up was carrying 279 passengers and 11 crew members. The incident became fodder for late-night talk-show jokes even as the government was embarrassed at the obvious lapses in airline security. The incident directly led to much of the heightened security seen at airports today.
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch
Photo: The so-called underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is scheduled to be sentenced today in a federal courtroom in Detroit. Credit: U.S. Marshals Service