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'Underwear bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab starts trial with outburst

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
Airline attack suspect starts trial with outburst
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
U.S. Marshals Service

(CBS/AP) DETROIT - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 24-year-old alleged underwear bomber accused of trying to bring down an international jetliner, walked into the start of his federal trial Tuesday and declared that a radical Islamic cleric killed by the U.S. military is alive.

The Nigerian man spoke out as jury selection got under way for his federal terror trial in Detroit. This is where he is acting as his own attorney and has had previous courtroom outbursts.

"Anwar is alive," Abdulmutallab said, referring to American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed last week by a joint CIA-U.S. military air strike in Yemen. "The mujahadeen will wipe out the U.S. - the cancer U.S."

Abdulmutallab, a well-educated Nigerian from an upper-class family, was directed in the attack by al-Awlaki and said he wanted to become a martyr when he boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in Amsterdam during  Christmas of 2009, according to the government.

Abdulmutallab came into the courtroom Tuesday wearing an oversized prison T-shirt and U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds called a brief recess to allow him to change into clothes more appropriate for court. The recess came after acknowledging and denying his apparent request to wear a "Yemeni belt with a dagger."

He has pleaded not guilty to eight charges, including conspiracy to commit terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The government says he wanted to blow up the plane by detonating chemicals in his underwear, just seven minutes before the jet carrying 279 passengers and a crew of 11 was to land at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. But the bomb did not work. The airplane passengers, assisted by crew members, saw flames and then pounced on Abdulmutallab.

Meanwhile, the government says Abdulmutallab willingly explained the plot twice. He first gave a description to U.S. border officers who took him off the plane. He then went into more detail to FBI agents who interviewed him at a local hospital for 50 minutes. He was interviewed by the agents following treatment for serious burns to his groin.