terrorism

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up an airplane near Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 is scheduled to be in federal court today. From the Associated Press:

…Abdulmutallab is due in court Thursday with prosecutors and his standby counsel, Anthony Chambers.

Abdulmutallab is representing himself, and it's possible that Judge Nancy Edmunds again will ask if he wants that to continue.

It's a critical issue because the deadline to challenge any evidence is two months away. Trial is set for October. Abdulmutallab is not a lawyer.

He's accused of trying to ignite an explosive in his underwear as Northwest Airlines Flight 253 approached Detroit on Christmas 2009. The plane left Amsterdam with 279 passengers and a crew of 11.

More details are being learned about why Detroit was chosen as a target in an attempt by an al-Qaida operative to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day 2009. It appears Detroit was picked because, quite simply, it was a cheap destination. The Associated Press reports:

The Associated Press has learned that when an admitted al-Qaida operative planned his itinerary for a Christmas 2009 airline bombing, he considered launching the strike in the skies above Houston or Chicago.

But tickets were too expensive, so he refocused the mission on a cheaper destination: Detroit.

The decision shows that al-Qaida's Yemen branch does not share Osama bin Laden's desire to attack symbolic targets.

After the failed bombing and the arrest of suspected bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab the question of why Detroit was targeted had gone unanswered.

Current and former counterterrorism officials told the AP that Abdulmutallab considered Houston. Another person with knowledge of the case said Abdulmutallab also considered Chicago.

All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

Neighbors and business owners in a growing Grand Rapids neighborhood are standing up against a so-called urban terrorist. Since Christmas Day a number of businesses and a new condo development have been vandalized and struck by arson in East Hills. Dozens of residents have received letters threatening violence if they don’t move out. The letters say old neighbors have been priced out as new developments came in.

Kathryn Caliendo has been volunteering for the East Hill Council of Neighbors for 20 years.

“I don’t like the buzzwords anarchy, or gentrification and I don’t like the word terrorist. This is not political discourse. This is criminal activity. And that’s what I want it to be treated as.”

U.S. Marshals Service

The young Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas was arraigned on new charges in federal court today.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab entered the courtroom in prison khakis, canvas shoes and red handcuffs.He  stood mute to the new charges, which include conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism. The original indictment, filed almost a year ago, never used the word “terrorism.”

Federal prosecutors filed new charges against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas.

Abdulmutallab was previously charged with attempted murder and attempting to use a weapon on mass destruction.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

The new charge of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, says he acted in concert with others whose names are known and unknown to the federal grand jury.

The charges say he traveled to Yemen to received training in making and detonating the bomb.

Michael Moore at a film festival in Venice
Nicholas Genin / Flickr

Michael Moore has announced that he is contributing $20,000 to help bail out WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (that WikiLeaks link is liable to change).

On his blog post, Moore says he's offering Assange more than just money:

I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra
Michigan Radio

Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra is condemning the latest Wikileaks disclosure of thousands of classified documents.

Republican Hoekstra, who represents Michigan’s 2nd District, says the leaks undermine U.S. credibility in the world.

The Associated Press reported:

Hoekstra said the disclosure of previously secret diplomatic cables, documents and e-mails secrets puts America's diplomats in "a very awkward position." He said some of the material in the roughly 250,000 released documents is "gossip," but added that there's also material on supersensitive negotiations between the United States and Pakistan on a deal aimed at controlling nuclear proliferation.

Hoekstra, who appeared this morning on CBS's "The Early Show" and ABC's "Good Morning America," is urging the Obama administration to classify Wikileaks as a terrorist organization.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
US Marshals Office/EPA

The man accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight last Christmas says he’s sticking to his decision to represent himself in court.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab fired his court-appointed lawyer last month, and told Judge Nancy Edmunds he intends to defend himself in court against charges that he tried to set off explosives hidden in his underwear on a Detroit-bound airliner.

Abdulmutallab now has what’s called a stand-by attorney, who can help advise him through the court proceedings.

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