Thursday, February 16, 2012

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab Gets Sentenced

A Nigerian who tried to blow up an international flight near Detroit on behalf of al Qaeda has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The mandatory punishment Thursday for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was never in doubt after he pleaded guilty in October and prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. The 25-year-old says the bomb in his underwear was a "blessed weapon" to avenge poorly treated Muslims worldwide.

The bomb didn't fully detonate aboard an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight in 2009 but caused a brief fire that burned Abdulmutallab.

He admitted afterward that the attack was inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric and leading al Qaeda figure killed by a U.S. drone strike last fall.

Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds announced the sentence in a crowded courtroom that included some passengers from Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

Before the sentencing, Abdulmutallab called it a "day of victory."

Abdulmutallab spoke briefly in court Thursday before prosecutors asked a judge to order the mandatory life sentence. As the hearing started, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds refused to set aside a federal law requiring the mandatory sentence.

CBS News' Ryan Corsaro reports that Abdulmutallab entered the courtroom wearing red handcuffs in an oversized white t-shirt and embroidered prayer cap.

As the sentencing went on, he shuffled through manila folders and envelopes, at times looking disinterested and pensive, but rarely looking at the judge or anyone who took the stand.

His attorney said it would be cruel and unconstitutional punishment when there was no death or serious injury to passengers.

But Edmunds said such a declaration would run counter to decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and prosecutors said that passenger deaths were not the relevant threshold.

"Unsuccessful terrorist attacks still engender fear in the broader public, which, after all, is one of their main objectives," prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

Abdulmutallab said the Quran instructs Muslims to kill people in the name of God and that Jews must be driven out of Palestine.

Abdulmutallab, wearing a white skull cap and an oversized prison T-shirt, was back in court four months after pleading guilty on the second day of his terrorism trial. The hearing was an open platform for passengers and crew who wanted to speak, but only five of nearly 300 addressed the court.

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