Al Qaeda Operative Files Lawsuit Claiming Rights Being Violated in Federal Prison

Underwear Bomber serving four consecutive life sentences for trying to blow up commercial airliner

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, known as the 'Underwear Bomber' / Getty
• October 23, 2017 12:44 pm


An al Qaeda operative who was convicted of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound plane with a bomb sewed into his underwear has filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others, alleging his constitutional rights are being violated at a supermax federal prison in Colorado.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, better known as the Underwear Bomber, claims he is being held in long-term solitary confinement, forced to eat foods against his religion, prohibited from communicating with relatives, and subjected to anti-Muslim harassment from white supremacist inmates, the Detroit Free Press reported Sunday.

On Christmas Day 2009, Abdulmutallab attempted to use an explosive device on a commercial airliner. He received burns to his genitals and legs as passengers and crew members overcame him as he tried to detonate a bomb on a flight with more than 300 people on it.

Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian native, has described himself as a member of al Qaeda and pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, in 2011. The following year he was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences in Florence, Colo., the highest-security prison in the country.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a video in 2014 claiming the group's senior leaders were closely involved in the plot to blow up the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The 73-page lawsuit was filed earlier this month in federal court in Colorado against Sessions, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Joe Does 1 through 20.

"Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the United States Constitution," the lawsuit says.

Abdulmutallab, a devout Muslim, alleges he is not allowed to participate in group prayer and does not have regular access to an imam. The lawsuit also states he is not being provided a halal diet, violating his rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

According to the lawsuit, Abdulmutallab is prohibited from communicating with "more than 7.5 billion people, the vast majority of people on the planet."

Abdulmutallab has gone on a hunger strike to protest his alleged treatment and has been repeatedly force fed, the lawsuit claims.