[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] on Monday upheld the conviction and sentencing [opinion, PDF] of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for his attempted bombing on an American aircraft. Abdulmutallab was sentenced [JURIST report] to life in prison in February 2012 after pleading guilty to all charges stemming from an unsuccessful attempt to detonate a bomb in his underwear while on Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. Abdulmutallab challenged his sentence and conviction, claiming that a life sentence on those charges constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and additionally alleging that he should not have been allowed to plea guilty or represent himself while there were questions as to his competency to stand trial. The Sixth Circuit rejected these and other arguments [Reuters report], stating that Abdulmutallab was an “adept and educated individual” who understood his actions and the charges against him, and that a life sentence was not disproportional, given that Abdulmutallab expressed continued motivation to commit terrorist attacks against the US.
Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in October 2012 against the advice of his attorney, after initially entering not-guilty pleas [JURIST report] on all charges in 2010. In September 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.