The man known as the underwear bomber for trying to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas day eight years ago with a bomb hidden in his underclothing has filed a lawsuit alleging his constitutional rights are being violated at a supermax federal prison in Colorado.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian native who became an al-Qaeda operative, alleges he’s being held in long-term solitary confinement, has been forced to eat foods forbidden by his religion, endured harassment yelled by white supremacist inmates saying things offensive to Muslims and has been prohibited from communicating with relatives, including nieces and nephews.
“Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the United States Constitution,” his 73-page lawsuit said.
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The lawsuit was filed last week in federal court in Colorado against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Joe Does 1 through 20. Spokespeople for the named defendants could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday.
Abdulmutallab is serving four life prison terms in Florence, Colo., the highest-security prison in the country.
He tried to detonate a bomb on a flight carrying more than 300 people, but his plan was foiled when passengers and crew members overcame him on Dec. 25, 2009, as the plane flew over Woodhaven, Mich., as it approached Detroit Metro Airport. The incident caused burns to Abdulmutallab’s genitals and legs.
Abdulmutallab has said he tried to carry out the bombing in retaliation for the murder of innocent civilians in Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere by the U.S.
According to the lawsuit, the U.S. government put Abdulmutallab under special administrative measures. They prohibit him from communicating with “more than 7.5 billion people, the vast majority of people on the planet.”
Abdulmutallab, who said he’s a devout Muslim, also alleges that the restrictions hinder him from practicing his religion and violate his rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The lawsuit claims he’s not been able to participate in group prayer, doesn’t have regular access to an imam and is not provided with a halal diet.
The suit said Abdulmutallab has gone on hunger strikes to protest his alleged treatment and has been repeatedly force-fed.
During his trial in Detroit in 2011, Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to eight counts, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.
He’s been in the Colorado prison since March 2012.