Attempted bomber of Detroit-bound plane gets life in prison

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to bring down a U.S. commercial flight on Christmas Day 2009 by detonating a bomb hidden in his underwear, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday in federal court in Detroit.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said life in prison is a “just punishment,” noting that “the defendant poses a significant ongoing threat to the safety of American citizens everywhere.”

Abdulmutallab’s lawyer had said that sentencing the Nigerian to mandatory life as required under federal law would be unconstitutional because no one was killed in the attempted bombing. But Edmunds was unmoved.

Government lawyers, who played video of the impact of detonating the equivalent amount of explosives as Abdulmutallab carried, essentially said that his failure to succeed in the attack did not lessen its seriousness. They described him as an “unrepentant would-be mass murderer who views his crimes as divinely inspired.”

“Today’s sentence once again underscores the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in both incapacitating terrorists and gathering valuable intelligence from them,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.