Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from his Christmas Day 2009 attempt to blow up an international flight on behalf of Al Qaeda with a bomb planted in his underwear.
The 25-year-old Nigerian faced eight federal charges, including conspiracy to commit terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, in connection with the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 carrying 290 people from 26 countries.
Ahead of his guilty plea, the prosecution was armed with strong evidence, including eyewitnesses on board the aircraft and FBI testimony that Abdulmutallab had admitted that he was working for Al Qaeda and was personally directed by Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American imam wanted by the U.S. at the time. Al-Awlaki was killed by a rocket fired from a U.S. drone aircraft.
Abdulmutallab, who had no legal representation, responded to questions from U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds and pleaded guilty to all eight charges stating, "I intended to wreck a U.S. aircraft for the U.S. wreckage of Muslim lands and property.” He also referred to the bomb as “a blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims.” He now faces life in prison without parole.
The attempted bombing occurred on December 25, 2009, when Abdulmutallab boarded a plane with an undetected chemical bomb attached to his underwear. Passengers testified that near the end of the flight, Abdulmutallab took a long bathroom break and returned to his seat, placing a blanket over his lap. Minutes later, his crotch was engulfed in smoke and flames, causing passengers to jump on him in efforts to extinguish the fire.
(Photo: U.S. Marshals Service via Getty Images)