Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had demanded new counsel, claiming his standby lawyer was ignoring him.
Appearing before a federal judge in Detroit, Michigan, convicted ‘underwear bomber’ Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was told Friday he would not be granted a Muslim lawyer for the sentencing hearing which has now been postponed till February.
In fact, according to local reports, the lawyer, Anthony Chambers, a prominent Detroit criminal defense attorney, played a major role, filing motions, representing Abdulmutallab at pre-trial hearings and questioning nearly every potential juror at the beginning of his trial.
“Because defendant represents himself, he has no right to standby counsel, let alone standby counsel of his choice,” federal prosecutors wrote in court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Abdulmutallab, who studied engineering in London and the Middle East,had been representing himself after firing his original attorneys in 2010. U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds then appointed Chambers, who assisted the case during the abbreviated trial.
Abdulmutallab is now slated to be sentenced on Feb. 16, after a delay was granted to allow a pre-sentencing report to be reviewed by attorney Chambers. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
The Nigerian student-turned-Al Qaeda operative was convicted of eight counts of terrorism for trying to detonate a bomb concealed in his underwear on an Amsterdam-to-Detroit jetliner carrying more than 300 people. The plot was botched when passengers and crew members overcame him. He suffered burns to his genitals and legs in the incident.
Passengers on the aborted flight are reportedly expected to testify at the sentencing hearing.
At the time of his capture, Abdulmutallab linked the attempted bomb plot to U.S. military operations in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere. He said that committing jihad against the United States is one of "the most virtuous acts" a Muslim can perform and warned that if the U.S. continued to murder innocent Muslims, a calamity would befall the country.
Meanwhile, a suit has been filed for $10 million by the man who helped stop the would-be bomber before he could blow up the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Theophilus Maranga, a Dutchess County resident, named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Delta Air Lines, and Air France-KLM. In the suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court Friday.
Maranga claims the airlines were negligent to let Abdulmutallab aboard, and he says he sustained numerous injuries in the scuffle including "injuries to the ribs, permanent numbness in the hands, pain in the neck... and removal of a tooth.”
After the attempted bombing, President Obama described the incident was "a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had," and that "the system has failed" in a major way.