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Federal Grand Jury Indicts Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

By Kamika Dunlap on January 07, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal grand jury indicted Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspect accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day.

The Nigerian man was indicted on six charges including attempted murder and trying to use a weapon of mass destruction to kill nearly 300 people.

He has pleaded guilty to six federal charges. The Nigerian national is on painkillers after having suffered second- and third-degree burns in the flight but told the judge he understands the charges.

According to the Associated Press, 23-year-old Abdulmutallab was traveling from Amsterdam when he tried to destroy the plane carrying by injecting chemicals into a package of pentrite explosive concealed in his underwear, officials say.

The bomb was designed for him to detonate at a time of his choosing, the indictment said.

The seven page indictment does not specifically mention terrorism,
but President Barack Obama considers the incident a failed attack against the United States by an al-Qaida affiliate.

The counts are:

  • Attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction
  • Attempted murder within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the US
  • Willful attempt to destroy and wreck an aircraft
  • Willfully placing a destructive device in or near an aircraft which was likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft
  • Two counts of possession of a firearm, ie the bomb, in furtherance of violent crime.

As previously discussed, Abdulmutallab was charged by the Department of Justice in federal court, rather than by military tribunal.

But many people including Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich have questioned why Abdulmutallab even deserves a trial. They want to know why, as a Nigerian citizen who was attempting to do grievous harm to U.S. citizens in U.S. airspace, does he deserve any U.S. constitutional protections at all?

Abdulmutallab is scheduled make his first appearance in federal court on this week for an arraignment. At the hearing it will be determined if he stays in custody.

Abdulmutallab has told U.S. investigators he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen. 

Since then President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the nation's watchlist system and of its air safety regulations.

If convicted of attempting to use a bomb on the plane, Abdulmutallab faces up to life in prison.

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