On Monday a federal appeals court upheld the life sentence of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (aka “underwear bomber”) for trying to blow up a plane headed for Detroit with a bomb hidden in his underwear on Christmas Day, 2009. He had filed an appeal asking for review of the sentence.
Just one day after his trial began, in October 2011 Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to eight counts. Abdulmutallab, who is Nigerian, seemingly took great pride in his suicide mission, calling it a “religious duty” aimed at avenging American attacks against his faith. Yet, he argued in his appeal application that the life sentence was cruel and unusual punishment. He challenged a number of decisions by U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds such as failing to order for medical examinations and allowing him to defend himself despite doubts about his competence.
The appeals court rejected all the defendant’s arguments and challenges against the sentence, saying “none of these claims have merit.” The court said, contrary to Abdulmutallab’s claims, the trial judge had warned him of the consequences of not being represented by an attorney but the now 27-year-old terrorist insisted on representing himself at the time.
Abdulmutallab, whom the court described as an “educated and adept individual” was trained in Yemen by a radical cleric called Anwar al-Awlaki. Abdulmutallab hid a bomb in his underwear aboard a plane headed to Detroit from Amsterdam. The plane had 281 passengers and a crew of 11 aboard.
The court ruled that the life sentence was adequate considering the gravity of the crime and the fact that Abdulmutallab deliberately knew what he was doing.
“These actions show the deliberate, conscious, and complicated path Abdulmutallab chose to pursue in the name of martyrdom.” The three-judge bench argued that these actions clearly indicated the exact opposite of “incompetence.”
The 281 passengers on Northwest Airlines flight 253 were lucky. They are alive today because Abdulmutallab’s bomb failed to explode.
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