Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. AFP – Getty Images
Federal marshals stand over suspect at jury selection hearing
msnbc.com | Sep 14, 2011
DETROIT — The man accused of attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound aircraft in 2009 shouted “Osama’s alive” and “I’m forced to wear prison clothes” Wednesday as he arrived for jury selection, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 24-year-old Nigerian student, also shouted “jihad” while the judge told prospective jurors about the allegations against him. His trial is set to begin Oct. 11 and he faces life in prison if convicted.
During the hearing, Abdulmutallab was in a separate room, but prospective jurors were able to watch him via closed-circuit TV.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds denied his request to be judged by Islamic law. Abdulmutallab had argued for his release, claiming he is being unlawfully detained by the U.S. government and that Muslims “should only be ruled by the law of Quran.”
In the hours after the Christmas Day attack, Abdulmutallab told authorities that he was working for al-Qaida and offered details of his “mission, training and radicalization,” prosecutors said in court documents filed last month.
In a 20-page filing seeking a judge’s permission to use the statements as evidence, the government said Abdulmutallab made incriminating statements to U.S. customs agents at the plane and to FBI agents a few hours later at University of Michigan hospital, where he was being treated for severe burns.
U.S. officials in Washington have long said they believed Abdulmutallab was working for al-Qaida, but the court filing was the first time that prosecutors in Detroit publicly said he confessed to it.
Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253, which had nearly 300 people on board, seven minutes before arrival at Detroit Metropolitan Airport by igniting explosives in his underwear. The bomb fizzled but severely burned his groin.
He wants the statements thrown out because he was not read his Miranda rights against self-incrimination.
The government, however, said there’s a long-established U.S. Supreme Court exception to Miranda if authorities believe there may be an immediate threat to public safety.
Abdulmutallab told U.S. Customs and Border Protection about his links to al-Qaida when officers met the plane at the gate, the U.S. attorney’s office contends. The officers gave the information to FBI agents who met with Abdulmutallab for 50 minutes at the hospital, more than three hours after the plane had landed. The government said there was no coercion.
“Every question was directly related to identifying any other attackers and preventing another potential attack,” the U.S. attorney’s office wrote. “Defendant answered, providing details of his mission, training and radicalization, including his decision months earlier to become involved in violent jihad.”
Under influence of painkiller
Abdulmutallab said he “intended to cause Flight 253 to crash, killing all persons on board,” the government said.
Abdulmutallab was being treated with fentanyl, a strong painkiller, but hospital staff indicated it would not interfere with his ability to speak, the government said.
“The FBI agents who questioned defendant made no threats, displayed no weapons and offered no promises or inducements,” prosecutors said.
Abdulmutallab is acting as his own lawyer with help from a Detroit defense attorney, Anthony Chambers.
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