Inside the courtroom for the 'Underwear Bomber' sentencing

Nigerian underwear bomber faces life sentence

Local 4's Jim Kiertzner is inside the Federal Courtroom where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison who admits trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas 2009.

Here are Jim's observations from inside the courtroom as the sentence is handed down:

1:00 pm: The courtroom is starting to fill up for the sentencing of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab for the attempted bombing of the Christmas 2009 flight from Amsterdamto Detroit.  The courtroom of Federal Judge Nancy Edmonds is relatively small, only 4 rows of seats behind the rail where attorneys and the defendant sit.  Several passengers on board the flight are expected to confront the 25 year old man in victim impact statements.  He pleaded guilty during his second day of trial last October including to the most serious charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.  A legal advisor, not a defense attorney will make a last-ditch effort to avoid the life sentence arguing it is cruel and unusual punishment.  But the judge is expected to deny the motion.  The government could play a video of what the bomb could have done if it had detonated as intended.  If that happens, the video could be released publically this afternoon.  Continue to follow the blog updates here on

1:52 p.m.: The hearing is underway with the judge taking up three motions.  The first, from the government to play a 52 second video made by the FBI of 200 grams of PETN, the explosive used on Christmas Day 2009, exploding on a sheet of aluminum to show the force of the blast if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had been successful detonating his bomb.  Attorney Anthony Chambers who is a stand-by attorney for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is arguing the amount of the explosive is only a guess and speculative and should not be played.  The judge ruled there is enough relevance and the video will be played. The second motion now being heard is that the life sentence is cruel and unusual punishment.  The judge just denied the motion. The third motion to be heard is from the defense that a report from a doctor who analyzed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should be stricken from the record. 

1:59 p.m.: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is sitting next to stand by Attorney Anthony Chambers wearing a white tee shirt and a white Muslim cap, a Taqiyah. The third motion is now being heard about the report from Doctor Simon Perry with attorney Chambers arguing the doctor was not through and whether there is a likelihood that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab could be rehabilitated.  The judge granted this motion on the grounds the doctor relies on statements from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and that the judge can evaluate what was said on her own.  This is not likely to have any affect on the final sentence of life without parole.

2:13 p.m.: 5 passengers are now giving victim impact statements. Larmar Mason just spoke in court.  He's a Delta flight attendant who was on the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day 2009.  He said he had a dream job, traveling the world. But this man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab stole and robbed that from me.  Mason says he wakes up with night sweats. "It took a lot of courage for me to come today. His intentions were to end our lives. Twice a week I see a therapist.  It will never be the same for me."  Shama Chopra is now speaking saying by the grace of God, she's alive to tell the world her story.  You have no right to take my life. She said she could see the flash in the front of the plane and has nightmares. But she also says "as a mother, I feel for you." Terrorists should not be able to run our life."  She came from Canada to speak in court.

2:28 p.m.: A man from Ghana now living in New York just said he's afraid to fly, that he's sad for this day that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would kill somebody in the name of God.  "What is that?" "I am praying for him everyday."

Another passenger Kurt Haskell thanked Lamar Mason for putting out the fire on board the plane and saving their lives.  But he's shocked that the plane would taxi with PETN all around us.  He told that to the FBI and agents did not seem to care.  He says the evidence shows Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was able to pass through the airport in Amsterdam without showing his passport to Dutch police.  "I question if my government put Umar intentionally on a plane with a bomb."  He went on to talk about what he's heard the US Government has done in the case and in respect to countering terrorism.  "The media doesn't always tell the truth" he said.  He went on to say he wanted to testify at trail but it ended with a guilty plea.  He calls Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab a government lackey.  That he believes the government game him an intentionally defective bomb and it "bothers me the government won't admit its role.  I will never trust what the government says, ever."

Lori (not sure her last name) who is an attorney says she was sitting 8 rows back and saw smoke, yelling and flames moving up the walls. She sat in shock.

She says don't assume things are being done correctly just because the government says it is.

2:32 p.m.: The judge just ruled that several passengers will be paid restitution for documented expenses, but limited the amount to only $400 per person. She has not rejected any requests.  Every passenger on the flight was allowed submit a request for restitution to the government. 

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is now about to speak.

2:53 p.m.: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was hard to understand, but started out saying in the name of Allah, all praise to Allah.  He ranted about how his life and the lives of Muslims have also changed. That Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists the US Government says have been killed ARE ALIVE.  He said God is severe in punishment and that's why there is Heaven and Hell.  God told us what to do in the Koran.  He said today is a day of victory.  God is great.  He lashed out at Jews, naming the US Attorneys on his case by name saying they intentionally misquoted and mishandled the case "to achieve their Hebrew goals." He said the Jews need to be "ripped out of Palestine…the Capital of the Muslim world."

The video was just played on a screen in court.  It shows PETN detonated in an outdoor field on a sheet of aluminum sitting on two wooden sawhorses.  Everything is destroyed in a matter of a few seconds.  In slow motion, a brief but intense flame is seen from the blast.  The attorney told the judge there are no fire engines in a plane flying in the air.  The fire would do as much damage as the explosion.  That several passengers thought they would die. She asked for the maximum sentence of life without parole so he can never harm Americans in the future.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to 8 counts including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy in an act of terrorism.

The judge is speaking about the sentence and guidelines.

3:02 p.m.: Judge Nancy Edmunds says this is an act of terrorism that can not be quibbled with.  Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was directed to wait to detonate his bomb until over the USfor a social and political objective.  When he spoke, he said he did it for Allah as taught in the Koran.  Participation in the jihad against the USis encouraged as divinely inspired. And that he would do it again.  His motivation is unchanged. 

The judge sentences Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to life without parole.   She says it is just punishment for what he has done.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab sat quietly with his hands folded under his chin and did not show any reaction.