By Allan Lengel
Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo
DETROIT –– In a federal courtroom in downtown Detroit, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man better known as the “Underwear Bomber”, was sentenced Thursday afternoon to life in prison for trying to blow up a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day in 2009.
Rail thin and clad in a white t-shirt and beige khakis, he looked more like an innocent high school kid than a 25-year-old from a privileged background in Nigeria.
But during the sentencing hearing, when given an opportunity to talk, he spoke more like a hardcore terrorist and true believer in the fight against the west, offering no remorse and shouting out repeatedly, “God is Great.”
He made disparaging remarks about Jews and America and the FBI and the federal prosecutors and he praised the concept of killing in the name of God and Islam.
“The defendant has never expressed doubt or regret or remorse about his mission,” U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said. “To the contrary, he sees that mission as divinely inspired and a continuing mission.” She hit him with four life sentences.
The sentencing included statements from passengers aboard the plane who were traumatized by the experience.
An emotional Flight attendant Lamare Mason talked about how the Underwear Bomber had turned his dream job into a nightmare. Consequently, he said his job is more like a punishment.
“It’s not a joy,” he said.
Passenger Kurt Haskell, an attorney, stepped up to the podium, asked Mason to stand, and then praised him for putting out the fire. Mason stood in the back of the courtroom fighting back tears.
Haskell then went on to accuse the government of having a hand in the matter.
He said the FBI didn’t seem concerned there might be others on board who were involved.
And he said back in Amsterdam, Abdulmutallab boarded the plane without a passport with the assistance of someone at the airport.
“Regardless of how media and government try to shape this case, I am convinced that Umar was given an intentionally defective bomb by a U.S. agent… to stage a false terrorist attack to be used to implement various government policies. It really saddens me that the government won’t admit its role in the event. Because of this case, I will never trust anything the government says, ever.”
U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade, who praised the judge for the sentence and feds who worked on the case, responded to Haskell’s remarks outside the courthouse and told reporters that Haskell’s theory “is not consistent with our facts.”
Andrew Arena, head of the Detroit FBI, said in a statement: “Those individuals who experienced Christmas Day 2009 first hand should be rest assured that justice has been done.”
And Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. issued a statement after sentencing, saying:
“As this investigation and prosecution have shown, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a remorseless terrorist who believes it is his duty to kill Americans. For attempting to take the lives of 289 innocent people, he has been appropriately sentenced to serve every day of the rest of his life in prison.
“Today’s sentence once again underscores the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in both incapacitating terrorists and gathering valuable intelligence from them.”
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