The UndieBomber’s 15 Minutes of Fame

Here’s the entirety of the speech Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab gave after he plead guilty to the Christmas Day bombing.

10:32 a.m.

Abdulmutallab read from a statement saying he was guilty under U.S. law, but not under Islamic law, for the crimes charged. He said he tried to carry out the bombing in retaliation for the murder of innocent civilians in Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere by the United States.

10:34 a.m.

He warned the U.S. that, if it continued to murder innocent Muslims, a calamity would befall the U.S.

If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later,” he said.

10:35 a.m.

He said committing jihad against the United States is one of “the most virtuous acts” a Muslim can perform.

The speech started no earlier than 10:23, it ended no later than 10:38. Quite literally, just 15 minutes or less for him to give the speech that is the primary reason people do not want terrorists tried in civilian courts.

The reason why we can’t have nice things like civilian law anymore (aside from all the torture-produced evidence we’re trying to hide) is because we might find out:

  • A Muslim man believes in Sharia law, not American law
  • A Muslim man correctly believes we have killed innocent civilians in Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other countries
  • Someone thinks the US might one day pay for its attacks on innocent Muslims
  • A radicalized Muslim man believes Allah will reward Jihad

That’s it. That’s what has people like Peter King and Buck McKeon and Lindsey Graham so scared that we have to rewrite our Constitution to give military law precedence over civilian law. They want to trade the legitimacy of today’s proceeding for largely secret proceedings where American citizens will be shielded from a failed terrorist’s 15 minutes of fame.

While we’re talking about how pathetic these fearful men are, I believe it’s safe to let you in on a little detail. The entire time Abdulmutallab has been in custody, he has been in a low security prison just 20 miles away from Ann Arbor, not some Gulag far away from our shore. And as it turned out, that, too, turned out to be okay.

16 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    as an aside, one of the two men incinerated along with al-awlaki was described as a “master bombmaker” whom our govt was delighted to find had made the mistake of traveling with al-awlaki. his death was described as a lucky add-on to al-a’s.

    one of this master-bomb-maker’s bombs?

    the penis package that abdulmutallab could not get to light, even with the time gained by putting a blanket over his head.

  2. DWBartoo says:

    You have summed up current American “reality”, EW, in its essential totalitarian totality, with utter and complete precision.

    Pathetic, innit?


  3. BoxTurtle says:

    We tried a terrorist in civilian court. The world did not end, nor was the courtroom, courthouse, or anywhere in the city bombed.

    Nor was there an attempt to break him out of the AnnArbor jail. Wonder if they’ll send him to Florence supermax as a flight risk.

    It’s not only that they’re afraid of his speech, they’re afraid they’ll lose their main justification for fake trials.

    Boxturtle (Speech wasn’t that good anyway)

  4. GKJames says:

    I suspect the only fear at work is that any chance at defense in open court will undercut the narrative prevailing since 9/11. For 10 years the story’s been of insane and murderous Muslims intent on attacking the US for no reason other than the fact that they’re insane and murderous (otherwise they wouldn’t be Muslims, right?), and that they hate the American way of life. That this intent is in reaction to something the US has done is a thought that can’t be allowed to register.

  5. bmaz says:

    This post looks lonely; I want to give it some love because it really is pretty important and is getting lost in the “Who Is The Bigger Idiot: DOJ or Iran” story.

    For instance, in all the hue and cry of the Awlaki kill shot, mostly sidelined is that a MAJOR chunk of why Awlaki was supposedly “operational” is Undiebomber. It is awfully convenient that he pleads guilty and the only existing legal/court forum for asking questions on the real facts of the Undie-Awlaki relationship is now extinguished. That is pretty significant actually.

    I think you can look for the government to sometime prior to the March 12 trial date find the sudden “compassion” to trade no death penalty for a Hasan guilty plea under the guise of not wanting to execute a mentally disturbed man. That will close off the only other known court avenues to flesh out Awlaki.

    That leaves Warsame; who the govt will not admit involves Awlaki, but which I am nearly certain actually revolves around him for the cheap jurisdiction the govt has asserted. Three strikes and the govt is out of court challenges to Awlaki.

  6. orionATL says:


    good points, bmaz.

    i thought abdulmutallah, as well as major hasan, was mentally ill.

    in fact, i think most lone wolves have a number of screws loose, even if not certifiably manic, schizo, etc

  7. orionATL says:

    in fact, it is possible that al-awlaki’s association with these three cases made it “permanently inconvenient” for him to be captured rather than killed.

  8. rugger9 says:

    bmaz’ point about scrutiny is most relevant, as he correctly notes that Awlaki is the string to tie them together and no one sees real due process. Yesterday, Hartmann had on the Regent University law school dean who tried to say that when Awlaki advocated jihad against the USA, he forfeited any due process because of the danger to the citizens, never mind the First Amendment rights, among others. Quite chilling, when you consider the terms used about the OWS protesters, even by the House Majority Whip. The GOP referred to those who disliked Shrub as “traitors” and worse and Shrub himself made the line as “if you aren’t for us, you’re against us”, and I have no doubt that this precedent will be used on dissidents in a future GOP presidency.

    And on a semi-related note, the drumbeat for war with Iran is on the Wurlitzer, and by the Saudis demanding WE do something about the Iranians. It’s something I had noted yesterday, in the posts about the all-too-convenient fitting of the pieces. The USA has no casus belli without resurrecting the embassy annexation, Saudi Arabia might. Israel certainly doesn’t but that hasn’t stopped that government from raising Sheol about the need for the USA to do something. One analysis I read claimed it was really an Israeli government plot to inflame the region and allow them to annex the West Bank and Gaza again to slam the door on the Palestinians. I will observe that the Arabs will not go away, and the Israeli government is idiotic to think that any group can be clamped down forever. They know this from their own history.

  9. thatvisionthing says:

    I liked the honesty of what he said. But I wonder what would have happened if he had pled not guilty, and if he had had a true jury of his peers, and if the function of juries was still, as originally intended, to hear the whole truth and decide where justice lay?

    I’ve had a couple epiphanies about juries — one, that due process and justice require juries empowered to nullify — juries that can try both the facts and the law as it is being applied and can find the law unjust. The other one was when Scott Horton said that the point of writing treason into the Constitution — the only crime so enumerated — was not because it was so important to charge, but to make it so hard to convict. All the founding fathers were guilty of treason themselves against the King. In all our 200+ years, how many successful treason trials have there been? Almost none.

    I then wondered, if juries really were fairly and randomly chosen from all among us, the defendants’ whole pool of peers, wouldn’t we get polarized viewpoints, authoritarians and questioners, and wouldn’t the jury always hang? Or is a crime a crime and we all know one when we see it? Maybe we can walk together with left feet and right feet?

    So what’s supposed to happen at a trial then?

    And then I think: War with words with all their power; reasoning. Fair contests that keep us all thinking together and working together rather than righteously building walls and offenses and defenses against each other. The country doesn’t — we the people don’t — win when someone gets thrown in jail forever. We win when we reason together and wear each others’ hats.

    We are 10 years into senseless war based on lies, and we still never hear from the people we kill. What a fucking fail.

    I imagine that Oprah would be a better president — her fabulous success depended on getting people to talk, and I truly doubt she would buy assassination by drone and collateral murder as anything but a big bag of stupid crime.

    I know the OJ jury gets a lot of blame for its verdict, but in the bigger picture — if the bigger picture is that they believed the LAPD was not innocent and just — I think they did what the government could not. They checked and balanced.

    I like how the writers of The Wire put it:

    Jury nullification is American dissent, as old and as heralded as the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, who was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, and absent a government capable of repairing injustices, it is legitimate protest.

    It’s not that juries can’t make mistakes — of course they can. It’s that they can afford to admit it and get it right next time. They can change course. They can reason and doubt and feel and learn. Or at least, they were supposed to.

    Sorry to be so long, I just have such pangs about this kid. When his identity was revealed and family photos were in the news, every now and then you’d get a glimpse of the whole uncropped photo or video clip, and he would be holding signs about saving kids or something. I thought his dad probably supplied the photos and wanted the world to see that child. But the news media almost always cropped the bleeding heart stuff out because his signs indicted us. We didn’t get to see the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

  10. Mary says:

    @bmaz: I was thinking a bit along those lines too – the “operational” aspect of Awlaki (which wasn’t, apparently, training the undieguy or outfitting him or having command control over him etc. but more along the “wait until you see the whites of their eyes” rhetoric – isn’t going to be subject to any examination of any kind now. Nothing to even show the Undieguy ever said that is what happened.

    The other thought was that the guy who boards the plane, ready to kill, and tries to kill, gets a plea – the guy who didn’t board the plane and had no command control got death, as did another American who no one claims was operational.

  11. paul says:

    I think the reason they don’t want to try these people in open court is that they are mostly or all patsies who might blurt out the truth. This guy, the ‘underwear bomber’, basically threatened to do so when he threatened to call Haskins as a witness. I presume that a combination of carrots and sticks was used to get him to back to accepting his role as a patsy. We’ll no doubt discover more about that a decade down the road, assuming the guy doesn’t disappear.

  12. thatvisionthing says:

    @Mary: Thanks Mary.

    I’ve been trying to think back more on the picture with the sign. I thought I remembered taking a screen shot of it and went back through a pile of old thumb drives and there it was, in a Hardball segment from January 2010. The URL in the screenshot still works. The sign photo is around 1:58. Umar is kneeling in a group of kids and pointing to the sign: “Stop Killing Kids / 24– Siege / Day IL / As long [as it takes?]”

    I remembered seeing a Bag News analysis of an Abdulmutallab photo on Huffington Post and went looking. I see they’d done two stories — both along the lines of what a nice kid he looks like (as in, see the big photo in the courtroom story ew linked to above). This story was early and linked to the known photos as they were coming out, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Click 4 and it takes you to a photo apparently taken at the same time as the one with the sign, and the kids are a class and they are standing in front of Buckingham Palace (no sign).

    Mess around on google some more and you find the whole picture (or the least cropped one) here, for example. It was taken by his teacher, Mike Rimmer, who is interviewed. The sign belongs to a man protesting outside Parliament, and the class is gathered around him, and Umar and another kid point to the sign.

    …the teacher told the Daily News, he “expected great things” from Abdulmutallab and was stunned by the events of Christmas Day.

    “I did not expect this. He was a great lad,” Rimmer said from his home in London. “He was so talented and healthy and came from a great family.”

    “All I can think of is he met some fanatics and it changed him,” Rimmer said.

    The teacher recalled a class trip to Buckingham Palace in 2001 when Abdulmutallab, now 23, was still his student. The boy had about $80 to spend on souvenirs, but opted instead to give the money to an orphanage.

    Yeah, I have pangs.

    And I think too of something the radio Scott Horton said once:

    Horton: In fact I just interviewed a writer, a journalist named Stephan Salisbury, about some of these entrapment cases, these bogus terrorism cases since September 11th. And he talks about how the informants always use Israeli policy, American policy in the Middle East as their talking points to try to provoke these people into saying something stupid into an open microphone so that they can be prosecuted. And they don’t ever say, “Don’t you hate it that women can wear skirts to a primary election?” Or something like that. They always say, “Look at what’s going on in the West Bank! How can you not fight back?” That’s what the provocateur says to entrap.

    I don’t know. It just sticks. I wish we could put the war of terror on trial.

  13. thatvisionthing says:

    @thatvisionthing: P.S. One other thing I wanted to add — I hardly see TV at all anymore and haven’t since soon after I saw that show. So I’m truly curious, all of you who do see TV all the time — how familiar is that photo with the sign to you? Did you know it? Do you see it around? One of the things I remember from the time was that it went by without remark in the background on Hardball like a subliminal message from someone who loved the kid, yet it didn’t show up in the next hour on Countdown, where I would have expected more sympathy. But it was in Hardball’s B-roll for a couple shows or segments at least — you can see the same sequence in the background of this youtube, also from January 2010. Like I said, I caught that one glimpse and never saw it again. When I image googled Abdulmutallab, I went through several pages without finding it. It was only when I added Buckingham Palace that I got anywhere. It was taken in 2001, after 9/11.

    P.S. This is a weird detail to me, in story Bomber at the Palace in the Sun:

    As the plane neared Detroit, he went to the toilet and took the chemicals from his pants. He then strapped the charge to the top of his leg and prepared a detonator in a syringe.

    But when he returned to his seat, using a blanket to hide what he was doing, the detonator failed.


    His attack on a passenger jet eight years later has left Abdulmutallab with permanent damage to his manhood, The Sun can reveal. His groin was engulfed by flames as he tried blowing up a device strapped to the top of his leg on a flight with 278 on board from Amsterdam to Detroit.

    Medics say he may lose the use of his privates.

    The bomb was external, outside his underwear? I didn’t know that. And he still blew up his “manhood”? What young man would start there?

    But at the time of the 2001 school trip to London Abdulmutallab was known as “The Pope” by classmates at the British International School in Togo… On the trip to London Abdulmutallab became upset when the teacher took students to a pub. He said it was wrong to be in a place where alcohol was being served… “His nickname was ‘The Pope’. In one way it’s totally unsuitable because he’s Muslim, but he did have this saintly aura…”

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