16 February 2012
— Calling it a "just punishment," a federal judge ordered life in prison Thursday for a Nigerian man who turned away from a privileged life and tried to blow up an international jetliner with nearly 300 people during a suicide mission for al-Qaida. DETROIT
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was the same defiant man who four months ago pleaded guilty to all charges related to the attempted destruction of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with a bomb in his underwear on Christmas 2009. He seemed to relish his mandatory sentence and defended his actions as rooted in the Muslim holy book, the Quran.
Earlier, four passengers and a crew member aboard Flight 253 told U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds that the event forever changed their lives. 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.
Al-Awlaki and the bomb maker were killed in a
U.S. drone strike in last year, just days before Abdulmutallab Yemen 's trial. At the time, President Barack Obama publicly blamed al-Awlaki for the terrorism plot.
Abdulmutallab is 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, an attorney assigned to help Abdulmutallab, said a mandatory life sentence was cruel and unconstitutional punishment for a crime that didn
't physically hurt anyone except Abdulmutallab. In reply, the government said there was plenty of hurt.