DETROIT — A Nigerian man pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying to bring down a jetliner with a bomb in his underwear, defiantly telling a federal judge that he acted in retaliation for the killing of Muslims worldwide and referring to the failed explosive as a "blessed weapon."
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who acknowledged working for al-Qaida and never denied the allegations, entered the plea against his attorney's advice on the second day of his trial. He stands to get a mandatory life sentence for the 2009 attack that aimed to kill nearly 300 people on Christmas Day in the skies above Detroit.
Abdulmutallab calmly answered the judge's questions and read a political statement, warning that if the United States continues "to persist and promote the blasphemy of Mohammed and the prophets," it risks "a great calamity … through the hands of the mujahedeen soon."
"If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later on the day of judgment," he said.
Abdulmutallab, who told the judge he is 25, pleaded guilty to all eight charges, including conspiracy to commit terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 12.
Abdulmutallab suggested more than a year ago that he wanted to plead guilty, but he never did. He dropped his four-person, publicly financed defense team in favor of representing himself with help from a prominent local lawyer appointed by the court, Anthony Chambers.
The Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight was just moments away from landing when Abdulmutallab tried to detonate the bomb in his pants. It failed to go off, but his clothes caught fire, and passengers jumped on him when they saw smoke and flames.
The government says Abdulmutallab willingly explained the plot twice, first to U.S. border officers who took him off the plane and then in more detail to FBI agents who interviewed him at a hospital after he was treated for burns to his groin.
In court, there were also photos of his scorched shorts and a video of Abdulmutallab explaining his suicide mission before departing for the United States.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the plea "removes any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism."