The Detroit Free Press reports the Underpants Bomber, 24-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has pleaded guilty to all charges:
Abdulmutallab read from a statement saying he was guilty under U.S. law, but not under Islamic law, for the crimes charged. He said he tried to carry out the bombing in retaliation for the murder of innocent civilians in Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere by the United States.
He said committing jihad against the United States is one of “the most virtuous acts” a Muslim can perform.
He warned the U.S. that, if it continued to murder innocent Muslims, a calamity would befall the U.S. “If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later,” he said.
The guilty plea came as a surprise to his lawyer, who said “it’s disappointing,” and made it clear Abdulmutallab arrived at this decision on his own. The trial had been expected to last for several weeks. His guilty plea means the Underpants Bomber is looking at 30 years to life behind bars.
There were almost 300 people on the Christmas Day flight Abdulmutallab tried to blow out of the sky, nine thousand feet above Woodhaven, Michigan. The Free Press sets the scene:
According to [Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan] Tukel, as the plane approached Detroit, Abdulmutallab spent increasing amounts of time in the lavatory praying and purifying himself. Then he returned to his seat, pulled a blanket over his head, and pressed the plunger on the bomb. First came a loud pop, then smoke, then the fireball in the suspect’s lap, he said.
“After that, all hell broke loose,” Tukel said, noting that several passengers tried to put the fire out, but nothing worked until flight attendants doused it with fire extinguishers. Abdulmutallab was eventually escorted to the business class section, where he sat naked from the waist down for the rest of the flight, he said.
Witnessing it all was Wisconsin passenger Michael Zantow, the first government witness to testify in the case. Today, he testified that after he heard a loud pop that sounded like firecrackers, he heard the passenger seated next to Abdulmutallab say: “Dude, your pants are on fire.” He said the passenger repeated the phrase several times, but that Abdulmutallab never responded.
It is very impolite to give someone the cold shoulder when they inform you that your pants are on fire. I thought Islamic law covered that.
A flight attendant came up to see what was happening, Zantow said. When she learned that Abdulmutallab’s pants were on fire, things started happening quickly, he said. Passengers yelled to get his seatbelt off and get his pants off to see what was going on. Four passengers lifted him out of his seat and put him on the floor of the plane.
That’s when Zantow said he caught a glimpse of “underwear I hadn’t seen before.” He described them as “bulky,” and said they reminded him of what his child’s pull-ups looked like when they were full – a comment that drew laughter from several jurors.
But remember, if you laugh at them now, they laugh at you later.
Attorney General Eric Holder swiftly declared Abdulmutallab’s plea is incontrovertible evidence that trying terrorists in civilian courts is a terrific idea:
Contrary to what some have claimed, today’s plea removes any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe. Our priority in this case was to ensure that we arrested a man who tried to do us harm, that we collected actionable intelligence from him and that we prosecuted him in a way that was consistent with the rule of law. We will continue to be aggressive in our fight against terrorism and those who target us, and we will let results, not rhetoric, guide our actions.
I’m not sure how the swift guilty plea of the Underpants Bomber, followed by his little sermon on Islamic law and the nature of comedy, can be construed as a massive victory for the strategy of hauling al-Qaeda operatives into civilian courts. Maybe Holder should try explaining it to the family of Samir Khan.