DETROIT (WWJ) – It was a bombshell of-sorts in federal court Wednesday in the case against the so-called underwear bomber. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, changing his plea to guilty on all charges involving a failed attempt to bring down a flight over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
Why the 24-year-old Nigerian man would work to build his defense, wait for the trial to begin and then change his plan remains unclear.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said there is no deal in place for Abdulmutallab.
“There was no plea bargain, no plea negotiations. He just said today that he wish to plead guilty,” said McQuade.
“I don’t know why. I can’t begin to get into the mind of someone who’s willing to kill himself and 289 people on a plane,” she said.
Speaking before WWJ Newsradio 950’s Marie Osborne and other reporters, McQuade thanked all those involved in the case, especially the crew and passengers of Flight 253.
“They acted with great professionalism and great bravery in subduing the defendant when he created this fire on board, and but for their acts — their quick thinking and swift action — this story might have had a very different ending,” she said.
McQuade said this case will send a message that trying terror cases in civilian court can work.
Talking to WWJ Newsradi0 950’s Vickie Thomas, the defendant’s standby attorney Anthony Chambers said he was disappointed that Abdulmutallab chose to make the guilty plea.
Thomas asked Chambers if he believes Abdulmutallab was concerned about the prosecutor’s plan to show a photo of his genitals.
“I don’t think that there was any particular photograph or any particular piece of evidence that caused that,” said Chambers. “I think that Mr. Abdulmutallab also had something that he wanted to say and he made a statement today.”
Lori Haskell, who was on the plane, was also in the courtroom on Wednesday. She agreed with Chambers.
“He [Abdulmutallab] believed maybe that that was his last hurrah kind of a thing. He gets to say what he wants to say, he violated U.S. law but not the Koran and, you know, basically make threats through his statement that he was guilty,” said Haskell.
Also in court was 46-year-old Georgia resident Demetrius Sessus, another passenger on that flight, who said this flight to Detroit for the trial was his first since the incident.
“That’s the only statement he needed to make. He was guilty. He put terror in children’s eyes in mother’s hearts,” said Sessus. “I mean, I seen men freeze from shock on the plane. It was a horrible experience. I have nightmares from it,” he said.
Abdulmutallab faces life in prison at his sentencing set for January 12.