DETROIT, Michigan, Sep 15 – A Nigerian man dubbed the “underwear bomber,” who is accused of trying to blow up a packed airliner over the United States, shouted out “Osama’s alive” at a pre-trial hearing.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda operative, became unruly on Wednesday while watching 250 prospective jurors fill out questionnaires ahead of final selection of the panel scheduled for October 4.
As well as the Osama bin Laden salvo, Abdulmutallab complained about being forced to wear “prison clothes” as he entered a Detroit courtroom clad in khaki prison pants, a white t-shirt and a black skullcap.
The 24-year-old then refused to stand when court was called to attention and propped his feet up on the defense table while monitoring the proceedings in another room on a two-way video feed.
The prospective jurors witnessed his antics but it was unclear if they could hear him holler “jihad” when Judge Nancy Edmunds briefed them about his alleged crimes.
Edmunds admonished Abdulmutallab, who has previously appeared subdued in court, for his behavior and for refusing to button a white dress shirt, but she rejected several motions that would have delayed his highly-anticipated trial.
Abdulmutallab, accused of attempting to kill 279 passengers and 11 crew aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, is representing himself but he has accepted the help of a court-appointed standby counsel.
Passengers and crew members were able to restrain Abdulmutallab after the explosives stitched into his underwear failed to detonate and instead caused a small fire.
The botched plot triggered global alarm and led the United States to adopt stringent new screening and security measures, including controversial pat downs at airports and a massive expansion of the country’s no-fly list.
The reputation of the nation’s intelligence services also took a hit because Abdulmutallab’s father, a prominent Nigerian banker, had warned the CIA about his son’s radicalization.
A federal agent testified Wednesday that Abdulmutallab admitted, while in the hospital being treated for burns, that he was operating on Al-Qaeda’s behalf and that a bomb maker in Saudi Arabia had provided the explosives.
He also allegedly admitted to meeting with other Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen to plot attacks on the United States and provided several of their names, according to FBI agent Timothy Waters.
Abdulmutallab has asked that the statement be suppressed since he was not informed of his right to remain silent, but federal agents said it was not necessary to do so because they were dealing with a terrorism threat that could have rivaled the September 11 attacks.
In handwritten notes filed last month, the accused asked to be released from custody because Muslims “should only be judged and ruled by the law of the Koran” and complained of the use of “excessive force” by guards at the prison.
Edmunds denied his motion to prevent the use of excessive force as “moot” — indicating it had no value — and also threw out his request for a detention hearing, court records showed.
Abdulmutallab’s standby counsel filed motions to suppress statements his client made to investigators from prison, arguing that he spoke freely because he thought he was engaging in plea negotiations and that the statements would not be held against him.
But Edmunds also denied that motion, along with a request to have the trial moved outside of Detroit and to grant Abdulmutallab access to transcripts and evidence from the grand jury inquiry into his case.