The trial of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009 is set to go full steam ahead next week as the jury was finally picked Thursday.
After three days of hearings in a Detroit court, a jury of nine women and three men with four alternates was chosen to try Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Abdulmutallab, 24, has insisted on representing himself on charges of trying to detonate a bomb on a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight with 300 people on board.
Judge Nancy Edmunds has repeatedly urged Abdulmutallab to let a lawyer argue his case, and appointed “standby counsel” to help him contest the charges.
While he accepted some help from lawyer Anthony Chambers, Abdulmutallab had insisted he would make his own opening statement on Tuesday when the trial gets fully underway.
However, court official Rod Hansen said Abdulmutallab had now told the judge he may change his plans. He has until late Friday to decide, ahead of what is expected to be a weeks-long trial.
Abdullmutallab, the son of a prominent Nigerian banker, had run into trouble at the start of jury selection on Tuesday when he shouted out “Anwar is alive,” in the courtroom in reference to Anwar Al-Awlaqi, the US-born cleric who was killed in a suspected US drone strike in Yemen last week.
And in another equally virulent outburst before the judge entered the courtroom, he said “the mujahedeen will wipe out the US, the cancer US.”
Edmunds also ordered him to change out of an oversized white T-shirt and into something “more appropriate” for the court.
The December 25 plot was foiled when explosives allegedly stitched into Abdulmutallab’s underwear failed to detonate and only caused a small fire, allowing passengers and crew members to restrain him.
The botched operation triggered global alarm and led the United States to adopt stringent new screening and security measures, including controversial pat-downs at airports and a massive expansion of the no-fly list.
Jurors will be shown a reproduction of the underwear that Abdulmutallab allegedly wore to hide the explosives and are expected to hear testimony from the plane’s passengers and crew.
Photo: Flickr user KossY@FINEDAYS.