'Underwear Bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab Pleads Guilty

JASON RYAN

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man accused of trying to blow up Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009 with a bomb in his underpants, changed his plea to guilty on all counts before saying he did it "to avenge the killing of my Muslim brothers and sisters."

After consulting with his lawyer, the "underwear bomber" was once again read the charges against him in a Detroit court today and after each one, he told the judge, "I plead guilty."

"The Koran allows every Muslim to undertake jihad," Abdulmutallab told the court after changing his plea. "I carried the device to avenge the killing of my Muslim brothers and sisters... Unfortunately, my actions make me guilty of a crime."

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Abdulmutallab called the failed explosives he had hidden in his underwear a "blessed weapon" and said he attempted to use it "because of the tyranny of the United States."

Abdulmutallab had originally pleaded not guilty to all charges, including attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, but apparently changed his mind since the prosecution completed their opening arguments Tuesday.

Prosecutors said Abdulmutallab attempted to ignite explosives hidden in his underpants on Christmas Day in 2009, but the device failed to explode and Abdulmutallab was subdued by other passengers aboard the plane.

After the incident, Abdulmutallab allegedly told Customs and Border Protection officer Marvin Steigerwald that he obtained the device in Yemen and that he hid it in his underwear. When he was questioned later by two FBI agents, Abdulmutallab said he went to Yemen to become involved in jihad and that he was influenced by a man named Abu Tarak to undertake a suicide operation, investigators said.

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Intelligence officials said that while in Yemen, Abdulmutallab also met with high-profile al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a CIA drone strike last month.

In his statement today, Abdulmutallab said that he was "greatly inspired" by Awlaki and said Awlaki is still alive.

Abdulmutallab said "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Great", as he was led out of the court.

The court case was expected to shed light publicly on Abdulmutallab's relationship with Awlaki and possibly details on Awlaki's role within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a dangerous affiliate of al Qaeda based in Yemen.

An attorney working with Abdulmutallab, Anthony Chambers, told reporters it was Abdulmutallab's decision to switch his plea even though Chambers disagreed.

"No lawyer worth his weight in salt would agree," Chambers said. "I thought the evidence was lacking... I don't think there was any damage to that plane."

Abdulmutallab will be sentenced Jan. 12, 2012.

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