Underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab begins life term

 

A Nigerian who tried to blow up an international flight near Detroit on behalf of al-Qa'ida started a life sentence without parole today.

The mandatory punishment for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was never in doubt after he pleaded guilty in October. The 25-year-old former London student said the bomb in his underwear was a "blessed weapon" to avenge poorly-treated Muslims worldwide.

The bomb failed to fully detonate on board the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight but caused a brief fire which burned Abdulmutallab.

He admitted afterwards that the attack was inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric and leading al-Qa'ida figure who was killed by a US drone strike last autumn.

Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds announced the sentence in a crowded courtroom which included some passengers from Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

Earlier, four passengers and a crew member told Judge Edmunds that the event changed their lives forever.

Abdulmutallab looked disinterested during their remarks - he rarely looked up while seated just a few feet away, wearing a white skull cap and an oversized prison T-shirt.

Abdulmutallab "has never expressed doubt or regret or remorse about his mission", the judge said. "In contrast, he sees that mission as divinely inspired and a continuing mission."

Life in prison is a "just punishment for what he has done", she added. "The defendant poses a significant ongoing threat to the safety of American citizens everywhere."

Abdulmutallab, who was educated in Europe and is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker, told the government that he trained in Yemen under the eye of al-Awlaki.

He chose to detonate a bomb on the Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight but the device failed and badly burned him. He quickly confessed after he was hauled off the plane.

"Mujahideen are proud to kill in the name of God. And that is exactly what God told us to do in the Koran... Today is a day of victory," he said in court.

The judge allowed prosecutors to show a video of the FBI demonstrating the power of the explosive material found in his underwear. Abdulmutallab twice said loudly "Allahu akbar", which means God is great.

Al-Awlaki and the bomb maker were killed in a US drone strike in Yemen last year, just days before Abdulmutallab's trial. At the time, US President Barack Obama publicly blamed al-Awlaki for the terrorism plot.

Abdulmutallab was an "unrepentant would-be mass murderer who views his crimes as divinely inspired and blessed, and who views himself as under a continuing obligation to carry out such crimes", prosecutors said in a court filing last week.

Anthony Chambers, a lawyer assigned to help Abdulmutallab, said a mandatory life sentence was cruel and unconstitutional punishment for a crime which did not physically hurt anyone except Abdulmutallab himself. In reply, the government said there was plenty of hurt.

"Unsuccessful terrorist attacks still engender fear in the broader public, which, after all, is one of their main objectives," prosecutors said before sentencing.

Indeed, Alain Ghonda, 48, a consultant from Silver Spring, Maryland, who was a passenger on Flight 253, said he travels the world with heightened awareness since the failed attack.

"After having that experience, you do not know who's sitting next to you," he said before yesterday's hearing. "They may look like passengers, but they might want to harm you."

The case also had lasting implications for security screening at American airports. Abdulmutallab's ability to defeat security in Amsterdam contributed to the deployment of full-body scanners at US airports.

The Transportation Security Administration was using the scanners in some American cities at the time, but the attack accelerated their placement. There are now hundreds of the devices nationwide.

Abdulmutallab, whose attack took place on Christmas Day 2009, had graduated a year and a half earlier from University College London, where he was also president of the student Islamic Society.

He studied an engineering degree at UCL between 2005 and 2008, and was Islamic Society president from 2006 to 2007.

An independent panel set up by the university's council concluded there was no evidence that he was radicalised while studying at the institution.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior DBA (SQL Server, T-SQL, SSIS, SSAS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Senior Project Manager

£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment