The documents, filed Friday, showed confessed underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was helped in his plot to blow up American Airlines flight 253 in December 2009 by well-known al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Abdulmutallab, of Nigeria, followed the teachings of al-Awlaki online for several years, the documents said. In 2009, he left Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he was taking graduate classes, to travel to Yemen and meet al-Awlaki.
There, he was selected for a martyrdom mission, records show.
In the weeks leading up to the bombing attempt, the men texted each other, spoke briefly on the phone and spent three days together at al-Awlaki's house in Yemen plotting the attack, the documents show.
"Al-Awlaki's last instructions to him were to wait until the airplane was over the United States and then to take the plane down," prosecutors wrote in court documents.
Al-Awlaki also apparently put Abdulmutallab in touch with a bomb maker.
In the end, the attempt failed when the bomb set a small fire in Abdulmutallab's underwear. Airline passengers and crew members quickly put the fire out.
Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to all the charges against him. He now faces life in prison.
Al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone attack in Yemen last year.