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Underwear Bomber Sentenced to Consecutive Life Terms

As expected, a federal judge in Detroit today sentenced Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, aka the Underwear Bomber and Captain Underpants, to life in prison for his failed attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight en route to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. Since the federal system has no parole, a life sentence means exactly that.

“The defendant has never expressed doubt or regret or remorse about his mission... “To the contrary, he sees that mission as divinely inspired and a continuing mission.” [Judge Nancy Edmonds] said she can't control his motives, but she can control his opportunity.

She ordered the life sentences to be served consecutively. As he was led out of the courtroom, he said, "G-d is Great."

In Abdulmutallab's statement to the Court, he ranted against Jews (see below for quotes): [More...]

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Prosecutors Seek Life for Underwear Bomber

The Government filed its sentencing statement today in the case of Detroit Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Abudulmutallab is set for sentencing Feb. 16. Some of the counts he pleaded guilty to carry a mandatory life sentence. The Government says a life sentence is also warranted because he remains committed to martyrdom. It attached the report of Dr. Simon Perry, a criminologist and professor from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and former Israeli police officer/official (for 30 years) to support its position. Interestingly, Perry never interviewed Abdulmutallab. He's based his opinion on FBI debriefings he was not present at, Umar's statements to the court at sentencing, interviews with various people and his knowledge of terrorism and martyrs. [More...]

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Opening Arguments and Testimony Begin in Detroit Terror Trial

The Government delivered its opening statement in the terror trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called "underwear bomber" charged with trying to blow up a NW Airlines plane en route to Detroit.

Reporters are tweeting live from the court. Check out the Guardian's Paul Harris @paulxharris, Robert Snell of the Detroit News @Detroitfedcourt and Steve Futterman of CBS @sfutterman.

AUSA Jonathan Tukel is presenting the opening. Standby counsel Anthony Chambers was going to give the opening for Mr. Abdulmutallab, but has decided to wait until after the Government rests its case.[More..]

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AQAP Confirms al-Awlaki's Death and Issues New Threats

Al Qaida Arabian Peninsula released a statement today confirming the killing of cleric Anwar al-Awlawi and two others. The media quotes a sentence or two, but you don't get the real flavor unless you read the whole thing. An English translation is here. A snippet:

“The Americans killed the scholar Shaykh Anwar al-Awlaqi and Samir Khan, but they did not prove any crime they committed and they never presented any proof against them from their laws of unjust freedom. So, where is the freedom, justice, human rights and respect of freedoms they boast of? Did America become so suffocated that it contradicted—and everyday it contradicts—these principles it claims it established its country on?”

“America has failed as it has not stuck to its principles, and the Shaykh—who lived his doctrine and died for its cause—won. And like that, everyday America kills humans unjustly and aggressively. Its history is black and long and has no limit, and it lies openly that it protects human rights, justice and freedom.”

[More...]

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Jury Selected in Detroit Terror Trial

The jury has been selected in the trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. There was an interesting twist, as after the jury was picked, the Judge dismissed juror #321, a woman from Nigeria. The judge didn't explain why she dismissed the juror, who is president of a Nigerian cultural association in Metro Detroit.

During jury selection Wednesday, the woman said she has lived in the United States since 1994 and has relatives in Nigeria. She did not know Abdulmutallab's family. The Nigerian woman also said if she rendered a guilty verdict, it would not create a problem back home but she did not want her identity revealed.

She was replaced Juror 277, a female retired Secretary of State supervisor. [More...]

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Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab: Flurry of Motions, Trial to Begin in October

The trial of accused "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will begin in October. Next week, potential jurors will begin filling out questionnaires. Abdulmutallab is representing himself, with the assistance of standby counsel Anthony Chambers.

Here's what's happened in the case recently: Abdulmutallab filed motions to suppress his statements made during interrogations at the University of Michigan Hospital and Milan Correctional Center. The Government responded it won't seek to introduce his statements made while detained at Milan. As to the hospital statements, Abdulmutallab argues the statements were not voluntary because he had been administered Fetanyl for pain and that the public safety exception did not apply because the agents asked so many questions that had nothing to do with any emergency: [More...]

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Underwear Bomber Trial Set for October, Will Represent Himself

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, aka the Underwear Bomber, will go to trial on October 4. The federal judge presiding over his case today refused to set a later date.

Judge Nancy Edmunds tried to talk the 24 year old out of representing himself -- he fired his public defenders months ago -- to no avail. He does have a standby counsel.

As Abdulmutallab repeatedly affirmed that he wished to continue as his own lawyer, the judge reminded him that -- even if he accepted representation -- he could always come to her directly with any concerns or questions.

"I understand you may worry about losing control over what happens to you," she said. "I can understand that is a frightening prospect and I am here to listen."

Abdulmutallab faces life in prison if convicted. His stand-by counsel says it's a very defensible case. Apparently, the Public Defender's office has expert reports that the device in his underwear could not have blown up the airplane.

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Underpants Bomber Fires Attorneys, Wants to Represent Himself

Really bad move by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Detroit underpants bomber. He fired his public defenders today and told the court he will represent himself. The Court will appoint stand-by counsel.

Is he taking a page from the Zacarias Moussaoui playbook? If so, he should know it didn't work out too well for Moussaoui, who is serving life in prison.

Abdulmutallab asked the judge if he could plead guilty to just some counts. The answer, of course, is "no" (absent government agreement.) And aside from the issue of guilt, there's the issue of sentencing. Federal sentencing requires professionals to navigate the guidelines and advocate for a below-guidelines or non-guideline sentence. No way will he be able to effectively do that himself. [More...]

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Nigeria Asks Court to Allow It to Monitor Abdulmutallab Proceedings

The Government of Nigeria this week filed this unusual pleading seeking to enter an appearance in the criminal case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab , the alleged "underpants bomber" and asked that it be provided copies of all filings and allowed to be present at hearings and trial.

The pleading states the request is made to insure the integrity of Nigeria is preserved during the proceedings. And,

To ensure that the Defendant who is a citizen of Nigeria is accorded a fair trial, due process of law , effective assistance of counsel and that his trial is in accordance with acceptable international standards without compromising the official position of the government of Nigeria on the nature of crime committed by the defendant which is a total denunciation of the alleged acts committed by the Defendant.

The request was denied. The next status conference is September 13. No trial date has been set.

Sounds to me like this was a public relations move since they can get the non-sealed pleadings off of PACER and court hearings are open to the public. But I hope someone in the Netherlands or Aruba picks up on it and files a similar request for Joran in Peru.

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Has the U.S. Targeted Cleric al-Awlaki for Assassination?

First we had the congressional hearing at which Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair gave details of information Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (aka Private Underpants) has given to the FBI during debriefing sessions. He also explained that it's acceptable policy for the U.S. to target Americans overseas for assassination.

Now we have more law enforcement leaks about Abdulmutallab's debriefings: He's ratted out cleric (and American citizen) Anwar al-Awlaki. Not that al-Awlaki knew about his Christmas Day attack, just that he was his "teacher" and they had met and communicated, something al-Awlaki also acknowledges. [More...]

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Private Underpants In the News

I'm demoting Captain Underpants, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to Private Underpants. He's a nobody, a kid following the pied piper, and the over-reaction to him by our elected officials, is becoming embarrassing. Republicans are using him, just as they are using the issue of the 9/11 trials, to steal the spotlight and rally their troops to get them votes in 2010. How do they even keep a straight face while they are spouting their nonsense?

In today's installment, Attorney General Eric Holder sent this letter to the Senate defending the decisions made following Abdulmatallab's arrest. And Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair seems to have forgotten there's a criminal case pending against Abdulmutallab. Holder should have insisted Blair not discuss details of Abdulmatallab's statements. These statements even go beyond what John Ashcroft was admonished for in the bungled Detroit terror case. [More...]

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Abdulmutallab Cooperating in Airline Failed Bomb Case

This should be no surprise. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is continuing to cooperate and provide information on the failed Christmas Day airline bomb plot. His lawyer is facilitating the negotiations. This is what often happens in criminal cases when a probable life sentence is on the table. Or, in the case of accused Mumbai co-conspirator David Coleman Headley, a death sentence.

All those Miranda fears are for naught. Criminal defendants get lawyers. Lawyers review the evidence. If the case is strong and the evidence likely to be ruled admissible, they consider plea bargains that involve cooperation. It happens daily in courtrooms across America. Terror cases are no different. What throws a wrench into the works is when law enforecment officers fail to abide by the rules and violate a suspect's rights. Then evidence can be thrown out and there's less incentive to make a deal. If they just followed the rules, it would be so much better for everyone.

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Osama Steals Credit For Detroit Failed Plane Attack

Osama bin Laden released a videotape yesterday claiming credit for AQAP and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's failed bomb plot on the Delta flight to Detroit on Christmas Day.

In a short recording carried by the Al-Jazeera Arabic news channel, bin Laden addressed President Barack Obama saying the attack was a message like that of Sept. 11 and more attacks against the U.S. would be forthcoming.

"The message delivered to you through the plane of the heroic warrior Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a confirmation of the previous messages sent by the heroes of the Sept. 11," he said.

"America will never dream of security unless we will have it in reality in Palestine," he added. "God willing, our raids on you will continue as long as your support to the Israelis will continue."

[More...]

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Captain Underpants vs. Professor Poopy-Pants?

Marc Lynch has a new post at Foreign Policy, Don't Let Captain Underpants Bring Back the GWOT, on the mass over-hysteria about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and his failed bomb plot on the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

But is too much to ask that the national discourse over the failed bomber be more mature and analytical than "Captain Underpants vs Professor Poopypants "?

Lynch cites with approval this WAPO op-ed, "Don't Panic, Fear is Al Qaida's Real Goal," which is well-worth a read. He also correctly notes: [More...]

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Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab Attends Court, Not Guilty Plea Entered

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab appeared in federal court in Detroit today. A guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

His head was shaved, which according to observers, made him look even younger than his 23 years.

He is represented by the Federal Defender's office. His parents have hired U.S. lawyers from Nigeria to observe the proceedings and keep them informed, but Federal Defender Miriam Siefer (an excellent attorney) told the court their office expects to continue to represent Umar.

Umar faces a possible life sentence on the first count in the Indictment, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

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