Judge allows underwear bomb model

Sept. 28, 2011 at 4:11 PM
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DETROIT, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Jurors will see a model of the bomb authorities say the alleged underwear bomber used to try to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, a federal judge has decided.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds also decided Tuesday the jurors will see videos of a bomb expert detonating an explosive identical to what prosecutors believe Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab hid inside his underwear aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009, The Detroit News reported.

Abdulmutallab, whose legal adviser argued the bomb wasn't powerful enough to destroy the plane, tried to block the videos showing the explosive PETN detonated in a field. The 24-year-old Nigerian had said it would be fair to instead show the explosive detonated aboard a plane in flight.

"I think any attempt to duplicate that kind of explosion would be extremely prejudicial," Edmunds told him.

Edmunds denied prosecutors' request to let jurors see a video showing Osama bin Laden praising as a hero Abdulmutallab, who has proclaimed himself an al-Qaida operative.

"There is a plethora of other evidence that establishes the conspiracy and it's not necessary," Edmunds said of the video.

Jury selection from a pool of about 80 prospective jurors is to begin Oct. 4 in the trial of Abdulmutallab, a 24-year-old Nigerian who is representing himself but has a standby lawyer to help at trial. The trial is to begin Oct. 11.

Also at the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel revealed officials at the federal prison in Milan had found a piece of paper hidden in Abdulmutallab's shoe with instructions on how to send secret messages. The News said it matched details found in the al-Qaida-supported magazine Inspire, which prosecutors want to use as evidence Abdulmutallab was part of a larger conspiracy.

Edmunds agreed to allow as evidence portions of the magazine regarding the encryption software to send the secret messages.

She also decided to let jurors view a martyrdom video recorded by Abdulmutallab and an al-Qaida-produced video in which members talk about how he got the bomb aboard the aircraft.

Passengers and crew members aboard the plane subdued Abdulmutallab and put out flames after he tried to detonate his explosive device.

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