The would-be terrorist now known as the “Underwear Bomber” is claiming that a federal prison in Colorado is violating his constitutional rights.
In a lawsuit filed last week, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallah claimed to be the victim of discrimination and psychological abuse.
The failed terrorist said facilities at Florence Supermax in Colorado were forcing him to eat food forbidden by the Muslim faith. Moreover, Abdulmutallab claimed, he was facing harassment from a group of white supremacists and being prevented from corresponding with his family.
“Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the United States Constitution,” read the 73-page lawsuit filed by Abdulmutallab, a native of Nigeria sentenced to four life terms in federal prison.
The prisoner claims that white supremacist guards and prisoners alike have abused him, shouting profanities directed at his Muslim faith. Some corrections officers, Abdulmutallab says, went so far as to show him ‘pornographic magazines’ during designated prayer times and defiled his Qu’ran and prayer rug.
Other complaints include an inability to participate in group prayers and the lack of an imam on staff at Florence.
On Christmas Day in 2009, Abdulmutallab unsuccessfully attempted to detonate explosives which had been hidden in his underwear. Other passengers on Northwestern Airlines Flight 253, flying from Amsterdam to Detroit, heard a popping noise and saw smoke and flames emanating from Abdulmutallab’s pants.
A man from the Netherlands quickly tackled the would-be terrorist, as flight crew and passengers scurried to put out a small fire affecting part of the plane’s wall.
Nobody was seriously injured.
Now in prison, Abdulmutallah said he’s gone on hunger strike to protest the conditions in which he’s being kept. He alleges that prison officials have force-fed him non-halal meals and is being punished with ‘special administrative measures’ preventing him from communicating with “more than 7.5 billion people, the vast majority of people on the planet,” according to the suit.
Abdulmutallab’s attorneys are seeking relief for their client, who spends most of his time housed in solitary confinement. They’re asking that he be allowed to take part in group prayers, which would be led by an imam.
“Prisoners retain fundamental constitutional rights to communicate with others and have family relationships free from undue interference by the government,” said Abdulmutallab’s lawyer, Boulder-based Gail Johnson. “The restrictions imposed on our client are excessive and unnecessary, and therefore we seek the intervention of the federal court.”
Abdulmutallab told the government during his trial that he was educated in Europe and had ties to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Islamic cleric brought up in the United States. He claims to trained with al-Qaeda in Yemen.