IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Accused 'underwear bomber' said he worked for al-Qaida

A Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas 2009 told authorities after being led off the plane that he was working for al-Qaida.
Booking photograph of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from the US Marshals Service
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is shown in this booking photograph released by the U.S. Marshals Service December 28, 2009. Ho / Reuters
/ Source: news services

A Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas 2009 told authorities after being led off the plane that he was working for al-Qaida and later offered up details of his "mission, training and radicalization," prosecutors said in court documents filed Friday.

In a 20-page filing seeking a judge's permission to present the statements as evidence at Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's upcoming terrorism trial, the government said Abdulmutallab made incriminating statements to U.S. customs agents after being taken from the plane and to FBI agents a few hours later while being treated for severe burns at a hospital.

Abdulmutallab, 24, 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 hidden in his underwear. He is trying to have his statements thrown out because he had not been read his Miranda rights against self-incrimination.

The government contends the U.S. Supreme Court has carved out an exception to Miranda if authorities believe there may be an immediate threat to public safety. A hearing is set for Sept. 14.

Abdulmutallab told U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents about his links to al-Qaida when they 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."

Abdulmutallab said he "intended to cause Flight 253 to crash, killing all persons on board," the government says.

Jury selection in his trial starts Oct. 4. Abdulmutallab is acting as his own lawyer with help from a Detroit defense attorney.

He has asked to be judged by the Koran rather than U.S. law, court documents show.

A handwritten request by Abdulmutallab asks U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds to free him from federal prison because he "believes that all Muslims should only be ruled by the law of the Quran."

"The Defendant is being unjustly detained in the United States of America, and subjected to the Rule of Man," the note from Abdulmutallab to the court said.

In a second handwritten filing from Abdulmutallab on Thursday, he claimed that guards at the federal prison in Milan, Michigan used excessive force to restrain him after he "assaulted several officers" on Wednesday.

The filing asks the court to order federal guards not to use excessive force on Abdulmutallab. Court documents do not indicate what led up to the alleged Wednesday incident.