Oct 5, 2011 – Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian youth on trial in Detroit, United States, for attempting to bring down an airliner was defiant as he appeared in court yesterday.
He attacked the US and declared the radical Islamic cleric that was killed last week by the US, alive.
Abdulmutallab’s outburst came as jury selection got under way for his trial. 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 yesterday, referring to American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed last week by a joint CIA-U.S. military air strike in Yemen.
“The Mujahadeen will wipe out the U.S. — the cancer U.S.,” he added.
Eight people have been accepted into the jury pool and four excused.
The first two prospective jurors called yesterday said they could not be impartial and were dismissed. The man was a law enforcement officer. The woman, an automotive sales administrator, said she believed Abdulmutallab was guilty.
Abdulmutallab questioned another woman who said she was concerned about retaliation for serving on the jury.
Abdulmutallab, well-educated and son of former FirstBank chair Mutallab, was directed in the attack by al-Awlaki and wanted to become a martyr when he boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in Amsterdam on Christmas Day 2009, according to the government.
Abdulmutallab, who complained loudly at a previous hearing about having to wear prison clothes, came into the courtroom yesterday wearing an oversized prison T-shirt. U.S. 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 many of Abdulmutallab’s requests for the trial, including that the case be judged under Islamic law.
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 U.S. during the Obama administration, revealed the rise of a dangerous al-Qaeda affiliate and al-Awlaki’s growing influence.
The government says Abdulmutallab willingly explained the plot twice, first to U.S. 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. He said he was influenced by al-Awlaki, who was killed last Friday by an air strike that President Barack Obama called a “major blow” to al-Qaeda’s most dangerous franchise.
Following the strike, a U.S. official outlined new details of al-Awlaki’s involvement against the U.S., including Abdulmutallab’s alleged mission. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said al-Awlaki specifically directed Abdulmutallab to detonate an explosive device over U.S. airspace to maximize casualties.
Osama bin Laden appeared in a video declaring Abdulmutallab a “hero”. Abdulmutallab also has been lauded by al-Qaeda’s English-language Web magazine Inspire, whose editor was killed along with al-Awlaki.
After the outburst about al-Awlaki and flap over Abdulmutallab’s clothes, jury selection got under way in earnest, with most questioning done by the judge and attorney Anthony Chambers, who has been appointed to assist Abdulmutallab. The Nation