Christmas Day Bomber Who Attempted to Blow Up Airliner Sentenced to Life

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried and failed to bring down a Northwest Airlines plane shortly before it was scheduled to land in Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, was sentenced today in federal court to multiple terms of life in prison.

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The 25-year-old man, sometimes called the Underwear Bomber – because that’s where he hid his explosive device – had pleaded guilty to the plot last fall, but argued in court today that a life sentence was “cruel and unusual.” The prosecution countered in its sentencing report that Abdulmutallab was “an unrepentant would-be mass murderer.” Northwest flight 253, heading from Amsterdam to Detroit, carried 259 passengers and crew when the failed plot began to unfold.

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Passenger Helped Thwart Bomber

The onboard drama began shortly before the plane was scheduled to land in Detroit when passengers noticed flames on the wall of the plane by the suspect. One of those passengers vaulted over his seat to subdue the suspect while flight attendants used fire extinguishers. Abdulmutallab suffered burns on his body while the heroic passenger had minor burns on his hands. The plane then made a successful emergency landing.

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Published: February 16, 2012