13 Oct 2011

'Underpants bomber' pleads guilty to all charges

6:15 am on 13 October 2011

The man accused of trying to blow up an airliner over the American city of Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 by means of a bomb sewn into his underwear has changed all his pleas to guilty.

Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is facing charges of trying to kill the 300 people on board the flight, told the judge at his trial in Detroit that he was admitting all eight counts against him, including terrorism and attempted murder.

Abdulmutallab, 24, was badly burned when a bomb sewn into his underwear failed to detonate fully, prosecutors say.

He will be sentenced on 12 January 2012 but the BBC reports that is now a formality - he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

United States investigators have said Abdulmutallab told them he was working for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is based in Yemen, and had received the bomb from them, as well as training.

Bomb not detected by airport security

Abdulmutallab flew from Nigeria to Amsterdam, where he boarded Northwest Airlines flight 253 to Detroit, which was carrying 279 passengers and 11 crew.

He was already on a US watch list, but not a no-fly list.

Passengers had to put out the fire after the bomb failed to detonate fully, the court heard on Monday.

Prosecutor Jonathan Tukel showed the court a picture of the remains of the burnt underwear that contained the explosive device.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) analysts found the high explosive pentaerythritol (PETN) inside the device. Officials say Abdulmutallab planned to detonate it using a syringe filled with chemicals.

The bomb was not detected when he passed through airport security in Lagos and Amsterdam.