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Underwear bomber begins life term

Published 16/02/2012

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab admitted trying to blow up an aircraft near Detroit on behalf of al Qaida
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab admitted trying to blow up an aircraft near Detroit on behalf of al Qaida

A Nigerian who tried to blow up an international flight near Detroit in the US on behalf of al Qaida is starting a life sentence without parole.

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 Qaida 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.

He "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.

"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.

Press Association

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