Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is this hour pleading guilty to attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound passenger jet on Christmas Day 2009.
The Detroit Free Press, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reported that Abdulmutallab’s trial might provide “a window into al-Qaida’s recruitment process” and clues to the ties between American-born radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki and al-Qaida terrorist operations. Al-Awlaki was killed last month in Yemen by a CIA drone strike.
Update at 10:26 a.m. ET: The Detroit News writes that Abdulmutallab “pleaded guilty to eight charges after he returned from a 45-minute recess, ending the most high-profile terrorism case in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. … The plea was unexpected but ended a criminal trial filled with unexpected outbursts by Abdulmutallab, who exhibited defiant behavior, fired his legal team, mulled a guilty plea last year and opted to defend himself. During court hearings, he propped a foot on the defense table and shouted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki were alive.”
There were about 300 people aboard the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam. The explosive device hidden in Abdulmutallab’s underwear did light, but did not detonate and he was subdued by passengers and crew.