DETROIT — A Nigerian man accused of trying to ignite an explosive on a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner on Christmas appeared before a judge for the first time Friday, against a backdrop of protesters who stood outside the courthouse waving American flags and denouncing acts of terrorism.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's arraignment was brief — less than five minutes — and a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. He said little, telling the judge simply that he understood the charges against him.
A grand jury indicted him earlier this week on six charges. The most serious — attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction — could land Abdulmutallab in prison for life if convicted.
During Friday's arraignment, Abdulmutallab, who wore a white T-shirt, tennis shoes and a chain shackle at his ankles, answered questions in English from U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Randon.
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He said "yes" when asked if he understood the charges against him and said he had taken "some pain pills" after the judge inquired whether he had taken any drugs or alcohol in the past 24 hours. Abdulmutallab, who is being held at a federal prison in Milan, Mich., had been treated at a hospital for burns after the attack.
His attorneys then waived the reading of the indictment, and Randon entered the not-guilty plea. It is routine practice in federal court for the defendant to allow the judge to enter a plea rather than say anything himself.