ALEXANDRIA, Va. — It’s been 2 ½ years since Gulet Mohamed, then 19, found himself stuck in Kuwait, unable to return to the United States because of his apparent placement on the government’s no-fly list.
Mohamed made it back to the U.S. not long after a federal lawsuit was filed on his behalf in January 2011, but the lawsuit challenging his placement on the list remains unresolved.
On Friday, Mohamed was back in a northern Virginia courtroom, where his lawsuit has been revived but as a legal matter is no further along than it was in 2011.
U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga dismissed Mohamed’s case last year, deciding he did not have jurisdiction to hear it. Earlier this year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit and sent the case back to Trenga.
Mohamed’s lawyer, Gadeir Abbas of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the court should now be in a position to rule on the substantive issue of whether the no-fly list is constitutional, and whether those placed on it must be given a fair chance to challenge their inclusion.
There has never been any explanation of how Mohamed — a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia — ended up on the list, much less government confirmation of his placement on the list. His travel difficulties began after he traveled to Yemen and Somalia in 2009 to learn Arabic, then to Kuwait where he stayed with an uncle. He said he was questioned by FBI agents who wanted him to become an informant, and when detained by Kuwait he was beaten and tortured.
Mohamed’s challenge to the list was among the first in a wave of lawsuits that followed a dramatic expansion of the list that occurred after the failed plot by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas 2009 with a bomb hidden in his underwear.
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.
DETROIT — A young Nigerian man accused of trying to bring down a jetliner with a bomb in his underwear made a defiant political outburst Tuesday, demonstrating again why his courtroom behavior will be closely watched throughout the trial where he’s representing himself.
“The mujahadeen will wipe out the U.S. — the cancer U.S.,” said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, scowling as he referred to Muslim guerrilla fighters.
When marshals removed his handcuffs, he also claimed that a radical Muslim cleric killed last week by the American military is still alive.
Virtually everyone aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 had holiday plans, but Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab believed his calling was martyrdom, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel said. The bomb didn’t work as planned but Abdulmutallab was engulfed in flames, said Tukel, who displayed the flight’s seating chart on a screen to show jurors where things happened on the plane.
The government says he told FBI agents he was working for al Qaida and directed by Anwar al-Alwaki, a radical, American-born Muslim cleric recently killed by the U.S. in Yemen. There are photos of his scorched shorts as well as video of Abdulmutallab explaining his suicide mission before departing for the U.S.
The Obama Administration has authorized the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki is an American Muslim who is believed to be living in Yemen encouraging and recruiting for attacks against the US. Al-Awlaki has been linked to the 9/11 hijackers as well as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who unsuccessfully tried to explode himself in a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day. Al-Awlaki has been also linked by US intelligence to Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people last November at Fort Hood. He is now added to the CIA target list
A former member of the radical Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir explains the psychology and tactics of enticing new recruits. Although he never met Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day bombing suspect, Shiraz Maher recruited people like him. This article shows the radicalization strategies used by groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK and how some members even cross the line to violent extremism.
Chief of Interpol Ronald Noble reports the biggest problem in travel is passport fraud, the stolen documentation terrorists use to travel the globe. He says 11 million stolen passports have been reported, could be being used by human traffickers, drug traffickers, terrorists, or war criminals.
He says it’s difficult to discern the motivations behind anyone carrying a passport, and if terrorists intend to board planes, they won’t do it with explosives that can be detected.
He feels the solution is better intelligence and better intelligence sharing, not large-scale implementations of full body scanners.
The increased use of body scanners is already occurring across the US as the result of the attempted Christmas Day terror attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Ten suspects thought to be connected to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab were arrested in Malaysia. The suspects, from Nigeria, Malaysia, Syria, Jordan, and Yemen. They were detained while attending a religious meeting, and are confirmed to belong to a terrorist organization.
An audio tape allegedly created by Osama bin Laden says he came up with the idea for the Christmas Day attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
In the tape he claims the attack was meant to reiterate earlier messages he has sent to the US, such as those delivered on 9/11, and that attacks will continue as long as America continues to support Israel.
US officials and researchers say the claim lacks hard evidence, and that big Laden is just trying to appear relevant. Still, he does have a history of connections to al-Qaida in Yemen, where Abdulmutallab was allegedly trained for the attack.
Abdulmutallab was charged as a civilian criminal rather than an enemy combatant, which would have subjected him to a military tribune, not a civilian trial.
GOP lawmakers are eager to know who decided to make Abdulmutallab into a criminal rather than an enemy combatant. In a memo to the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) writes, “We are writing to ask who within the Department of Justice made the decision on Christmas Day to treat Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a criminal suspect, entitled to Miranda warnings and the right to counsel, rather than as an unprivileged enemy belligerent subject to military detention and a full opportunity to gain intelligence.”
Lawyers and federal prosecutors are handling the evidence being used in Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s trial with strict confidentiality.