World News : Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian man who tried to set off an explosive hidden in his underwear while aboard a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day in 2009, on Monday had his life sentence upheld by a federal appeals court.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by the man known as the Underwear Bomber that the sentence was cruel and unusual punishment, and that U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds in Detroit had erred by letting him represent himself at trial despite doubt about his competency.
Abdulmutallab, 27, challenged the sentence despite having pleaded guilty in October 2011, one day after his trial began.
He called his attempted bombing at the time a part of his “religious duty” to participate in a jihad against the United States to avenge attacks on Muslims by that country.
The defendant had been trained at an al Qaeda camp in Yemen under the direction of U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
Writing for a three-judge panel, Circuit Judge David McKeague called Abdulmutallab an “educated and adept individual” who chose a “deliberate, conscious, and complicated path” in the name of martyrdom.
He said a life sentence was appropriate given the nature of the crime, and the defendant’s having committed an act of terrorism and “communicated a desire” to undertake more.
McKeague also found no reason to question Abdulmutallab’s competence. “The complexity behind Abdulmutallab’s mission indicates the exact opposite of incompetence,” he wrote.
Travis Rossman, a lawyer for the defendant, had no immediate comment, his office said.