[Updated at 3:35 p.m. ET] A Nigerian man who pleaded guilty to trying to bring down a Christmas Day 2009 flight with an explosive device hidden in his underwear was sentenced to life in prison Thursday.
Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, 25, pleaded guilty in October to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, among other charges. Shortly before he was sentenced Thursday in a federal courtroom in Detroit, he argued a life sentence – for which prosecutors were arguing – would be "cruel and unusual punishment," as well as unconstitutional.
The judge rejected his argument.
U.S. officials say the terror group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula helped plot the bombing attempt on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, which was heading from the Netherlands to Detroit. Authorities say AbdulMutallab, a passenger, tried to ignite an explosive device that was hidden in his underwear shortly before the plane landed, but passengers and flight crew members subdued him and extinguished flames after the device briefly set him on fire.
The plane was carrying 289 people.
"As this investigation and prosecution have shown, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a remorseless terrorist who believes it is his duty to kill Americans," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a Justice Department news release after Thursday's sentencing. "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."
When pleading guilty in October, AbdulMutallab told the court that he aimed to avenge "the killing of innocent Muslims" and "U.S. tyranny and oppression of Muslims."FULL STORY