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'Underpants bomber' trial begins

The trial of the American airline underpants bomber has begun with a debate over the use of the word "bomb".

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with trying to destroy a Detroit-bound plane on behalf of al Qaida, entered a court in the city wearing an African gown and black skull cap.

He was silent as he settled next to defence lawyer Anthony Chambers.

In early discussions, the US federal judge hearing the case refused to prevent prosecutors from using the word "bomb."

Mr Chambers had asked the judge to ban the word "bomb" or "explosive" until final arguments.

Abdulmutallab, 24, is charged with trying to detonate a bomb in his underwear aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas 2009.

Mr Chambers said it was up to the jury to decide what caused the smoke and fire.

"I'm going to deny that motion. ... It makes no sense whatsoever," US District Judge Nancy Edmunds said.

Abdulmutallab has written a few court filings in his own hand, including a request to be judged by Islamic law. He has at times appeared agitated in court, declaring that Osama bin Laden and a radical Muslim cleric recently killed by the US are alive.

The evidence is stacked high. Abdulmutallab was badly burned in a plane full of witnesses. The government says he told FBI agents he was working for al Qaida and directed by Anwar al-Alwaki, a radical, American-born Muslim cleric recently killed by the US in Yemen. There are photos of his scorched underpants as well as video of Abdulmutallab explaining his suicide mission before departing for the US


From Belfast Telegraph