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Alleged plane bomber’s trial set for October

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is acting as his own lawyer. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is acting as his own lawyer.
Associated Press / January 26, 2011

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DETROIT — A judge yesterday set an Oct. 4 trial date for a Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009 using a bomb hidden in his underwear.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is acting as his own lawyer, asked for a 2012 date and said he might not have enough time to prepare. But US District Judge Nancy Edmunds said a fall trial was best for now.

“We need to move this case along,’’ she said.

Abdulmutallab is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiring with others to kill 281 passengers and 11 crew members aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. US investigators believe he received training and instructions from Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen beginning in August 2009.

Law enforcement officials say Abdulmutallab tried to ignite a concoction of highly explosive PETN and possibly a glycol-based liquid explosive hidden in his underwear. It set off popping sounds, smoke, and some fire but didn’t detonate. Passengers and crew subdued him and extinguished the flames.

Anthony Chambers, an attorney assigned to assist Abdulmutallab, said they would challenge the evidence in pretrial motions that are due in June.

“We have reason to believe that device could not have done the damage the government claims,’’ Chambers said.

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