The arraignment of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of attempting to bomb a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with explosives hidden in his underwear, is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. today at the courthouse. It is expected to be brief and uneventful, but it is attracting attention from near and far.
Nigerian attorneys Maryam Uwais and Mahmud Kazaure, who is registered to practice in Maryland, arrived at the courthouse this afternoon, saying they were there to represent Abdulmutallab’s family but only as observers.
Also among those attending the arraignment will be a representative from the Nigerian Embassy.
Inside the courthouse, teams from the U.S. Marshals Service, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were combing the building. Bomb-sniffing dogs were going throughout the courthouse and inside the courtroom repeatedly as security tightened.
Any trial and the bulk of the proceedings in the case after today are expected to be handled by U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds, who was named to the bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush.
An earlier federal court hearing on prosecutors’ request for a DNA sample from Abdulmutallab was canceled without explanation.
“We’re still exploring the best way to address that,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, who would not say why the DNA sample is needed.
Officials have also set up a second room where spectators can watch the arraignment on video. No special card is needed to watch from there.