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‘Underwear Bomber’ Trial Begins in Detroit

1 p.m. ET | Abdulmutallab’s lawyer, Anthony Chambers, opted to delay his opening statement to jurors to a later point in the trial after the prosecutor’s hour-and-a-half long opening statement. According to federal prosecutor Jonathan Tukel, Abdulmutallab believed he would be martyred, praying and applying perfume before attempting to detonate his explosives.

9 a.m. ET* | The trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — more commonly known as the “underwear bomber” for his failed attempt to down a Detroit-bound international flight on Christmas Day 2009 — is underway Tuesday in a Michigan federal court. The 24-year-old Nigerian allegedly attempted to smuggle explosives hidden in his underwear on a flight from Amsterdam, in connection with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to prosecutors.

Umar Farrouk Abdulmutallab

The indictment alleges that Abdulmutallab used the lavatory on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 and then covered himself in a blanket before trying to detonate explosives that had been sewn into his underwear. He was stopped by fellow passengers and flight attendants. The bomb failed, and Abdulmutallab sustained severe burns on his body. He is charged with trying to use a weapon of mass destruction. (Read the full indictment.)

Abdulmutallab, who had indicated that he planned to stand in his own defense, is represented by court-appointed defense lawyer Anthony Chambers. In pre-trial jury selection, Abdulmutallab had several courtroom outbursts, alleging that “Anwar is alive” — a reference to al-Qaida recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in a drone strike in Yemen earlier this month — and claiming Osama bin Laden was still alive. “The mujahideen will wipe out the U.S. – the cancer U.S.,” he said. Abdulmutallab also asked to be tried under Islamic law.

On Tuesday morning U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds denied a motion to bar prosecutors from using the word “bomb,” saying the motion “makes no sense whatsoever.” Chambers had asked that the words “bomb” and “explosive” be banned from the proceedings.

Abdulmutallab could face life in prison if convicted. Stay with the rundown for more updates on his trial.

For more background:

The BBC’s profile, which describes the son of a well-known Nigerian businessman as having “a life of privilege” but was “was increasingly showing signs of extremist views” in the years leading up to the alleged bomb attempt.

Shortly after he was arrested, The New York Daily News looked at his father’s warnings to U.S. authorities about his son’s extremist views.

Last year, the New York Times examined the “lonely trek to radicalism” for the young man who grew up in northern Nigeria before cutting ties with his family and disappearing into Yemen.

Photo via U.S. Marshals/Associated Press

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