Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to detonate an explosive device in his underwear aboard a flight to Detroit, surprised courtroom officials and spectators on the second day of his trial Wednesday by pleading guilty to all the counts against him.
He previously had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which included attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, and possession of a firearm or destructive device in furtherance of an act of violence.
AbdulMutallab acknowledged in a courtroom statement Wednedsay that he had previously traveled to Yemen and was “greatly inspired” to participate in such a plot by U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen September 30. U.S. officials say the terror group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula helped foment the bombing attempt.
“I carried with me an explosive device to avenge the killing of innocent Muslims,” AbdulMutallab said.
Prosecution portrays AbdulMutallab as grimly determined
The announcement came on the second day of his trial. Tuesday, the prosecution made its opening statement and had already called its first witness in the case.
AbdulMutallab was a passenger aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route from the Netherlands to Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009, when he attempted the bombing.
Jonathan Tukel, chief of the National Security Unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Michigan, laid out details of the flight in his opening statement.
Pointing to AbdulMutallab, Tukel said, “His sole reason for being on Flight 253 was to kill all of the passengers and himself. He thought he’d end up in heaven.”
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