Failed Christmas Day bomber appeared in federal court for the first time since his arrest on Monday. At a brief hearing during which the charges were formally read, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab fired his attorneys and asked the judge how he could plead guilty.
Following his failed attempt to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253, Abdulmutallab was subdued by other passengers and turned over to law enforcement officials in Detroit. He was charged with six counts, including the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. At the time of his indictment, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said:
"the attempted murder of 289 innocent people merits the most serious charges available, and that's what we have charged in this indictment."
Since his arrest, Abdulmutallab has reportedly cooperated with law enforcement officials. Through interrogations with him, the FBI has learned that the attack was plotted by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, that Abdulmutallab was provided training and explosives in Yemen from al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula; and that there are "others like me" who would be sent to carry out similar attacks.
At his hearing, Abdulmutallab ignored the advice of U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds and dismissed his counsel:
"I prefer to represent myself. Any representation I have, there will always be a conflict of interest…any representation I get would present me in a way that is not in my best interest."
After being appointed standby counsel, Judge Edmunds asked whether there was anything else he wished to say. At that point, Abdulmutallab hinted that he may wish to plead guilty to some of the charges, saying:
"If I want to plead guilty to some counts…basically, how would that go?"
Judge Edmunds did not set a trial date, but a conference has been scheduled for October 14. If he is ultimately convicted of the charges, Abdulmutallab faces life in prison.