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'Underwear bomber' Abdulmutallab says Awlaki is alive

image captionIt is not the first courtroom outburst from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

A Nigerian man accused of attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound plane using explosives sewn into his underwear has made another courtroom outburst.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, shouted "Anwar is alive" during jury selection for his trial at the court in Detroit.

He was apparently referring to Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born al-Qaeda recruiter killed in a drone strike last week.

Mr Abdulmutallab is defending himself after firing his court-appointed lawyers.

In a September pre-trial hearing, the accused called out "Osama's alive", and refused to stand up for a judge. He also said "jihad".

'Cancer US'

Jury selection is expected to take most of this week, with the trial due to start next Tuesday.

The former student is charged with conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

He faces life in prison if convicted.

Following Tuesday's "Anwar is alive" outburst, Mr Abdulmutallab said: "The mujahideen will wipe out the US - the cancer US."

Wearing an oversized prison T-shirt, he was asked to return to the court with more appropriate clothing.

US District Judge Nancy Edmunds, who is presiding over the case, denied an apparent request by the accused to wear a "Yemeni belt with a dagger", reports the Associated Press news agency.

Prosecutors say Mr Abdulmutallab was directed by Awlaki - who was killed by missiles last week in Yemen - to carry out the attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day in 2009.

While a US Supreme Court ruling upholds a defendant's wish to represent him or herself, a stand-by defence lawyer is assigned to Abdulmutallab to help with court filings and to step in if necessary.

The Nigerian attempted to have several pieces of information banned from appearing at trial, including statements he made while being treated for burns at a hospital.

Mr Abdulmutallab argued the interview should be suppressed, as he was not read his rights before being questioned by the FBI, including the right to remain silent.

Judge Edmunds denied the request, citing public safety in the immediate hours after the attempted bombing.

More on this story

  • Islamist cleric Anwar Awlaki 'killed in Yemen'