A Nigerian man on a suicide mission for al-Qaeda was sentenced today to life in prison for attempting to blow up an international flight with a bomb in his underwear as the plane approached Detroit on Christmas 2009. The mandatory punishment for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the well-educated son of a wealthy banker, was never in doubt after he surprised the courtroom and pleaded guilty to all charges on the second day of trial last fall.
Abdulmutallab is an "unrepentant would-be mass murderer who views his crimes as divinely inspired and blessed, and who views himself as under a continuing obligation to carry out such crimes," prosecutors said in a court filing last week. An attorney assigned to help Abdulmutallab called the sentence cruel and unconstitutional punishment for a crime that didn't physically hurt anyone except Abdulmutallab. In reply, the government said there was plenty of hurt. "Unsuccessful terrorist attacks still engender fear in the broader public, which, after all, is one of their main objectives," prosecutors said.