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Federal court sentences attempted plane bomber to life imprisonment

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] on Thursday sentenced [DOJ news release] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to life imprisonment for his attempted bombing on an American aircraft. The 25-year old Nigerian national, who has been linked to al Qaeda, unsuccessfully attempted to detonate an underwear bomb while on Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. The bomb created a fire, but failed to explode, burning Abdulmutallab without causing fatalities to other passengers. During Abdulmutallab's sentence the presiding judge, Nancy G. Edmunds, stated that Abdulmutallab "has never expressed doubt or regret or remorse about his mission." He was sentenced on all 8 counts of indictment [text, PDF; JURIST report] including conspiracy to commit terrorism, attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Following Thursday's decision, the family of Abdulmutallab urged the court [statement, PDF] to reconsider the life sentence.

Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in October against the advice of his attorney, after initially entering not-guilty pleas [JURIST report] on all charges in 2010. In September of 2010, Abdulmutallab fired his lawyer [JURIST report] and decided to represent himself. The case was initiated by US authorities [JURIST report] on December 26, 2009. Following Abdulmutallab's attempted bombing, numerous additional safety measures were put in place in regards to US air travel. US President Barack Obama announced [JURIST report] in December of 2009 that officials would increase screening requirements as well as the number of air marshals aboard flights.

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