Oct 13 Lori Haskell: "Trial and The Verdict"
Trial and The Verdict
by Lori Haskell - Thursday Oct 13, 2011
Haskell Family Blog - http://haskellfamily.blogspot.com/2011/10/trial-and-verdict.html
Trial for the Underwear Bomber started this week, on Tuesday (Oct 11). Since neither Kurt or I had been contacted about being witnesses or being sequestered from the courtroom, we decided to head down to the trial in the hopes of being able to observe. Seats were reserved for all victims, and we really wanted to be there as much as possible. When going through security on the first floor of the court, we ran into someone who works for Anthony Chambers, who told us a pre-trial Motion had been filed that morning to exclude Kurt and I from being in the courtroom for the trial as we may be potential witnesses. We decided to head up and see what happened anyway, since the Motion was not ExParte and had not yet been granted.
Headed up to Floor 8, where Judge Edmunds is. Had to go through more security and obtain a pass to wear allowing us in the court. Sat down in the spot indicated for victims and waited for things to start. The trial started with the pre-trial motions, which one was filed by the prosecution and two by the defense. The prosecution actually filed a Motion that listed Kurt and I, by name, asking that we not sit in on trial as we may be witnesses for the defense. Judge Edmunds excluded Kurt from the courtroom, but said she was not excluding me since I was not on the witness list. I had to stand, and she told me that she did not want me to discuss anything with Kurt about the trial, which I agreed to.
Kurt left, and the other pre-trial Motions were heard. One Motion was to exclude an Exhibit which was a picture of Umar's genital area and thigh of his burns, and the other Motion was one to stop the prosecution from describing the device Umar had as a bomb or explosive. Both Motions were denied.
After this, there was a sidebar, and a really long meeting was held in a jury room between Chambers and Umar. No idea what was discussed. I could only guess it was about a plea deal or maybe about letting Chambers finally take on the role of his attorney. When they came back, the Judge asked if another sidebar was needed, and Chambers said no, we can proceed. We were all DYING to know what was discussed.
Trial then started with a VERY LONG opening statement by the prosecution (about 1 hour 10 minutes). The opening statement, while very detailed, completely lacked ALL emotion, and I would have approached it differently, but hey, it was not my case to prosecute. The opening statement used the overhead projector and also audio of the pilot calling into the airport during the emergency. SO eerie to hear that, and again, so weird to live through hearing about the incident, once again. Once the opening statement was done, the defense chose to reserve their right to give an opening statement and we moved on to the first witness at about 12:25 PM.
The first witness was a passenger on the plane whom neither Kurt or I have ever met. He was sitting about a row back from Umar and witnessed everything, and helped stop him from doing more damage than he did to our plane. He is a grandfather and former military (Army). His testimony was pretty straightforward, just what he witnessed in regards to Umar and the fire. Court then stopped at 1:00 PM for the day.
It was VERY draining for me to be down there. Hearing the witness talk about the incident all over again, and hearing the audio of the call for emergency, exhausted me and took me back to that day all over again. And not bein able to talk to Kurt about anything and rehash it all was KILLING me. :).
Day two of trial, I could not attend first thing in the morning, but, I guess I did not miss much. Apparently, as soon as court was called to session, another long meeting happened between Chambers and Umar until around 10:50 AM. Once they came into the court, the Judge was informed that Umar was going to plead guilty to all 8 charges against him. I got there at 10:10 AM and walked into the overflow courtroom. I sat down, ready to take notes and watch, and heard the Judge say something to the effect "How do you plead to count 2......." and hear Umar say "Guilty". I think I almost fell over in shock at this point. I stepped back and sat down on a bench and after deciphering between calling Kurt and watching, I started to watch. I watched as he pled guilty on all 8 counts. I watched as he gave him statement to the court. I watched as he was taken away again by probation. I heard the Judge schedule a sentencing for January.
I was floored.
I really never thought he would plead to anything. Or if he did, I thought it would be way before this.
I did not even know how I felt about this. All I felt at first was, a sense of total and complete relief, like some huge weight had been lifted off my chest.
I had a very stressful couple days, coupled with the fact that Kurt being named as a defense witness was making me fearful of his and my safety...........
I walked in the hall and sat on a bench and looked at my phone, which had a bunch of calls from the media on it, and I dialed Kurt.
Me: "Did you hear what happened with Umar"
Kurt: "No, what?"
Me: "He pled guilty on all 8 counts?"
Kurt: "WHAT?? Did he get a sweet plea deal or something?"
Me: "No idea, I don't know what the sentence is, that's not until January"
I then realized I was almost crying as this was all really overwhemling me, and I asked Kurt to come over to deal with the media since I knew they would want to talk to us. He could not leave his hearing. I hung up and was immediately approached by the associated press wanting to ask me some questions. Talked to them, and headed outside to the rest of the press. I was bombarded as soon as I walked outside the court, asked questions about my reaction, how it felt, etc. Kurt called and said he was heading over, so once he got there, I let him talk to the media.
So, how do I feel now about this? A variety of emotions, really. Relief is the biggest one. I am glad this guy is permanently off the streets and not able to harm anyone else. I am glad I don't have to go to trial every day for the next month plus. I am glad I don't have to worry about Kurt's safety. I'm also disappointed. I really wanted Kurt to get to testify, however, neither one of us actually thought he ever would be allowed to. Curious--as to "why" he pled guilty, what was really going on behind the scenes that we may never know. I'm also saddened that the general public is never going to see as part of this trial the lies the government told, covered up and participated in. I'm saddened that people like Umar are allowed to travel to this country and put our lives at risk in order to allow the government to further their own personal agendas.
Anyway, wanted to post my thoughts on everything while they were still fresh in my memory. It's so odd this is all complete now.
Composed By: Lori H at Thursday, October 13, 2011
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Lawyer discusses 'underwear bomber' plea - VIDEO
Wednesday 12 October 2011
Umar Farouk Adbulmutallab's attorney discusses his client's stunning decision to plead guilty to charges that he tried to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009
Wednesday 12 October 2011
Al-Qaida 'underwear bomber' stuns Detroit court by changing plea to guilty
Umar Farouk Adbulmutallab decides to plead guilty to conspiring to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009
'Underwear bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said: 'I intentionally carried an explosive device for the US tyranny and oppression of Muslims'.
With a last, defiant shout of "Allah Akbar", the so-called underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, left a Detroit courtroom on Wednesday after pleading guilty to conspiring to blow up a plane on Christmas Day 2009.
The Nigerian citizen, 25, stunned the court with his sudden plea reversal after prosecutors were settling down to present a mountain of physical evidence against him that was expected to last up to a month.
But instead, after a brief recess, Abdulmutallab suddenly decided to plead guilty to smuggling a deadly bomb hidden inside specially constructed underwear on board Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Abdulmutallab intended to blow the plane out of the sky over America but it failed to go off. Instead, he suffered severe burns to his crotch and was subdued by fellow passengers and airline crew.
Pleading guilty dodged a lengthy terror trial, but also allowed Abdulmutallab the opportunity to address the court. Dressed in a black jacket and a brown tunic, he gave out a five-minute statement in which he explained that he wanted to carry out the attack to protest against US and Israeli policy towards Muslims.
"I intentionally carried an explosive device on Flight 253 for the US tyranny and oppression of Muslims," he told the courtroom. He described the high explosives packed into his underpants – which could have brought down the plane and killed everyone onboard – as "a blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims."
Anyone hoping for a deeper insight into Abdulmutallab's mindset and an explanation of why a young educated man from a wealthy background would embrace a suicide mission to kill civilians would have been disappointed by his speech. So would anyone looking for an expression of contrition or regret. The brief statement opened with a rambling religious exhortation and then went into the familiar language of Islamic jihad.
He said that his action had been a "religious obligation" and that it was legal under the law of the Qu'ran. But he conceded had acted illegally according to US law; a concept he repeated numerous times as he went through the charges. "My actions make me guilty of a crime within the United States," he admitted. He also issued a threat. "The US should await a great calamity that will befall them at the hands of the mujahadeen," he said.
But, perhaps aware of his "underwear bomber" nickname, he also sternly admonished people not to laugh at him. "If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later," he said.
The day of legal drama brought an end to a case that has taken almost two years to come to court and been often marked by bizarre and outrageous moments. Last year Abdulmutallab dismissed his legal team and started to conduct his own defence. Though often quiet and respectful during previous hearings, he was also prone to occasional outbursts, such as calling the US "a cancer" and saying Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki was alive. The latter claim was repeated in court on Tuesday.
He also showed a changing dress sense, shifting from colourful robes to sombre gowns to once requesting to wear a traditional Yemeni belt complete with ceremonial dagger: a request that was denied.
But the theatrics disguised a serious terror plot that only by seeming good fortune failed to kill hundreds of people. The case outlined by the prosecutor showed how Abdulmutallab travelled to Yemen to meet Islamic militants. One of them, a man known as Abu Tarak, came up with the underwear plot and provided the bomb, which was made by a Saudi terrorist. Abdulmutallab also recorded a martyrdom video that appeared as a short segment in a longer more general al-Qaida film. In it, Abdulmutallab posed with a AK-47 propped up behind him and urged Muslims to join the fight.
"My Muslim brothers in the Arabian peninsula, you have to answer the call of jihad because the enemy is in your land along with their Jewish and Christian armies," he said in the clip.
Abdulmutallab did his best to carry out his suicide mission. He boarded the plane in Amsterdam wearing the bomb. At the end of the flight, as it approached Detroit, he went to the bathroom to ritually prepare himself with perfume. When he returned to the seat he put a blanket over his head and pretended to sleep. He then pressed a syringe that was meant to mix chemicals together that would eventually detonate the explosives in the bomb.
However, it only partially ignited the device. The lone witness to give testimony before the trial ended was fellow passenger Mike Zantow. He provided yet another moment of levity in the case by telling the court that the first sign something was wrong was when the man sitting next to Abdulmutallab said: "Hey, dude, your pants are on fire!"
But, as prosecutors were at pains to point out, there was nothing funny about the underwear bomb plot. They had amassed a wealth of forensic evidence and witness testimony that would have shown how close it came to causing a major atrocity in the skies above Detroit.
As lead prosecutor Jonathan Tukel put it in his opening statement: "His mission was for the al-Qaida terrorist organisation... his only reason for being on Flight 253 was to kill all the other passengers and himself."
Abdulmutallab pleads guilty, warns U.S. of 'day of judgment'
Robert Snell and George Hunter/ The Detroit News October 12. 2011 6:17PM
Detroit— Accused "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said he tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane to avenge the killing of Muslims by the U.S. worldwide, a startling admission followed by a guilty plea that ended his high-profile terrorism trial.
The guilty plea, and a lengthy rant against the United States, came on the second day of Abdulmutallab's terror trial in federal court. He pleaded to eight charges, including attempted murder, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit terrorism for his attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
The 25-year-old Nigerian and self-proclaimed al-Qaida operative faces up to life in prison when sentenced Jan. 12.
Abdulmutallab said Wednesday he tried to bomb the plane in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel and to avenge the killing of Muslims.
He said the bomb was a "blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims."
"Participation in jihad against the United States is considered among the most virtuous of deeds in Islam and is highly encouraged in the Quran," Abdulmutallab told the judge, reading from a statement.
Life in prison expected
Abdulmutallab did not negotiate any deal with the government and legal experts expect he will spend the rest of his life in the Supermax federal prison in Colorado. That's where several high-profile terrorists and inmates are incarcerated, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds earlier asked him if he wished to waive his right to a trial and plead guilty.
"That's right," he said.
Edmunds asked Abdulmutallab how he would plead to one of the most serious charges, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which is punishable by up to life in prison.
"Guilty," Abdulmutallab said.
"And are you pleading because you believe you are guilty?" the judge asked him.
"Yes," he answered.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel asked him if he carried an explosive device on board.
"If you say so," Abdulmutallab said.
"You knew it was an explosive, correct?" Tukel asked him.
"Yes," he answered.
"It was intended to explode?" Tukel asked him.
"Yes," Abdulmutallab answered.
Abdulmutallab also ranted against the U.S. after pleading guilty.
"The United States should be warned," he said. "If the United States continues to persist and promote the blasphemy of Mohammed and the prophets and continues to support those who kill innocent Muslims, they should await a great calamity that will befall them at the hands of the mujahedeen by God's will and permission soon or God will strike them directly with a great calamity soon. If you laugh at us now, we will laugh at you later in this life and at the day of judgment."
Sentencing in January
Abdulmutallab will be sentenced at 2 p.m. Jan. 12 in federal court.
He shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before being handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom by a deputy U.S. Marshal.
Abdulmutallab's legal adviser, Anthony Chambers, said the Nigerian decided to plead guilty against the advice of counsel.
"It was based on his feelings," Chambers said. "We wanted to continue this trial. No lawyer worth his salt would advise his client to plead guilty to a crime that carries a life sentence."
Chambers said Abdulmutallab told him Tuesday during a break in court proceedings that he wanted to plead guilty.
"I believe he is a misguided, impressionable young man, as many college students are," Chambers said. "And I think he had something he wanted to say."
Chambers said he believes he could have won the case.
"I thought the evidence was lacking," he said.
Chambers pointed to incriminating statements Abdulmutallab made to federal agents and nurses at University Hospital in Ann Arbor following the attack.
Edmunds said national security fears justified agents not reading Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights but Abdulmutallab could have pursued the issue on appeal.
Lori Haskell of Newport, a passenger on the flight who sat seven rows behind Abdulmutallab, said she's glad the case is over "because I've had to relive it."
"Every time we're down here, I have flashbacks of my plane being on fire," she said. "Whether he's a pawn or not, he tried to kill 290 people, including me."
Jurors declined to talk to the media about the case or the guilty plea.
The guilty plea marks a major victory against terrorism for the Justice Department, which was criticized by some for trying Abdulmutallab in civilian court instead of a military tribunal. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, the FBI and other federal officials will discuss the plea at a 2 p.m. news conference in Detroit.
Congresswoman Candice Miller said the brief trial and pre-trial hearings proved Abdulmutallab should have been tried in a military court.
"The people of the city of Detroit, after having this terrorist almost blow up an aircraft over our community, have watched as he has made a mockery of our civilian justice system, they have had to absorb costs associated with this trial and law abiding members of our community who were called as prospective jurors have expressed fear over being seated at such a trial," she said.
She called the guilty plea "a rare outbreak of common sense."
The plea was unexpected but ended a criminal trial filled with unexpected outbursts by Abdulmutallab, who exhibited defiant behavior, fired his legal team, mulled a guilty plea last year and opted to defend himself.
During court hearings, he propped a foot on the defense table and shouted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki were alive.
On Wednesday, Abdulmutallab wore a dark sport coat and a long khaki-colored dashiki that flowed to his ankles — a more formal look than his dress for earlier hearings.
The prosecution opened the trial Tuesday by providing the most detailed and vivid narrative of the moments surrounding the terrorist attack. The incident exposed gaps in airport security after prosecutors say Abdulmutallab managed to board the flight from Amsterdam with the bomb, an act that led to stiffer security measures.
Abdulmutallab's guilty plea comes after being accused of hiding powerful explosives inside his underwear and trying to detonate a device on Christmas Day 2009 aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. The bomb failed to detonate over Metro Detroit and some of the approximately 300 passengers and crew pounced on Abdulmutallab and extinguished the flames.
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20111012/METRO/110120401/Abdulmutallab-pleads-guilty--warns-U.S.-of-‘day-of-judgment’#ixzz1andbx2RU
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