Could the death of an Al Qaida leader affect a trial starting soon in Detroit?

Sep 30, 2011

The death of a prominent Al Qaida leader is not expected to have a big effect on jury selection in the case of an alleged terrorist in Detroit next week.   

A U.S. drone attack today in Yemen killed US-born radical Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who allegedly inspired ‘underwear bomber’  Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.    He’s accused of trying to blowup a Detroit-bound airplane on Christmas day, 2009, with a bomb hidden in his underwear. 

Peter Henning is a law professor at Wayne State University.  He does not expect  today’s drone attack will be a factor for the prospective jurors, unless the defendant, who’s acting as his own attorney, tries to make it a factor. 

"That could make the judge’s work even more difficult because she has to account for how he might respond," says Henning.  

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s trial is scheduled to start October 11th.