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October 11, 2011Detroit, MI, United StatesOperational

'Underwear Bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleads guilty

DETROIT — Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called "underwear bomber," pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to eight counts of terrorism-related charges.

United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced the plea Wednesday. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Andrew G. Arena, special agent in charge of the FBI, and Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Detroit.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 25, of Kaduna, Nigeria, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, attempted murder within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, willfully placing a destructive device on an aircraft, which was likely to have endangered the safety of the aircraft, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, willfully attempting to destroy and wreck a civil aircraft, and three counts of possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Abdulmutallab faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. According to the indictment filed in this case in August 2009, the defendant traveled to Yemen for the purpose of becoming involved in violent "jihad" on behalf of Al Qaeda. There, the defendant conspired with other Al Qaeda members to bomb a U.S. aircraft over U.S. soil and received an explosive device for that purpose.

Abdulmutallab traveled with the bomb concealed in his underwear from Yemen to Africa and then to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he boarded Flight 253 on Christmas day, 2009. The bomb contained PETN and TATP, two high explosives, and was designed to be detonated with a syringe containing other chemicals. Abdulmutallab's purpose in taking the bomb on board Flight 253 was to detonate it during flight, causing the plane to crash and killing the 290 passengers and crew members on board.

As Flight 253 was on descent into Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the defendant detonated the bomb, which resulted in a fire, but otherwise did not fully explode. Passengers and flight attendants tackled the defendant and extinguished the fire.

"This case demonstrates that civilian courts are an appropriate tool for bringing terrorists to justice," McQuade said. "Thanks to the hard work and professionalism of the law enforcement personnel and prosecutors who worked on this case, the defendant will spend the rest of his life in prison."

"The case against Abdulmutallab was a combination of the hard work and dedication of FBI personnel as well as multiple federal, state and local agencies. Those individuals who experienced Christmas Day 2009 first hand can be rest assured that justice has and will be done," said Arena.

The defendant's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2012, at 2 p.m., where he faces a mandatory life sentence.

The investigation of this case has been conducted by the FBI. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Tukel, Cathleen M. Corken and Michael C. Martin.