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Terror trial jury might see videos of explosive

This undated handout image provided by the U.S. Marshals Service on December 28, 2009 shows Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Abdulmutallab, 23, is a Nigerian man suspected of attempting to blow up Northwest 253 flight as it was landing in Detroit on Christmas day.
Photo by U.S. Marshals Service via Getty Images

DETROIT - Prosecutors preparing for an upcoming terrorism trial said they have made video demonstrations of an explosive mix of chemicals similar to what a Nigerian man is accused of hiding in his underwear on a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009.

The government wants a federal judge to allow jurors to see the videos at the October trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is charged with trying to blow up an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight with nearly 300 people aboard.

"The demonstrations the government seeks to introduce provide the jury with an idea of the destructive power of PETN in a manner that is easily understood by a lay person," the U.S. attorney's office said in a court filing Friday.

The detonation videos were made in a field, not on an airplane, and are not intended to stir the jurors' emotions, prosecutors said.

"The explosive force of the defendant's bomb is highly relevant to whether the defendant's bomb was likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft or was intended to kill people or wreck the aircraft — all of which are elements the government must prove at trial," prosecutors said.

Abdulmutallab, 24, is charged with trying to detonate an explosive in his underwear as Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was just minutes from Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Christmas Day 2009. Passengers saw smoke and flames and pounced on him.

An expert for the government is expected to explain at trial why the explosive didn't work as planned.

A message seeking comment was left Saturday for Anthony Chambers, an attorney assisting Abdulmutallab, who is acting as his own lawyer.

Prosecutors have said Abdulmutallab admitted he was working for al Qaeda when he was interrogated at University of Michigan hospital. Chambers is trying to have those and other statements thrown out. A hearing is set for Wednesday, the same day prospective jurors have been summoned to court to fill out a questionnaire.

Jury selection starts Oct. 4, and opening statements are planned for Oct. 11.