This past week, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, dubbed the "Underwear Bomber" after a failed attempt to bring down an airliner in December 2009, joined the ranks of Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), Terry Nichols (who conspired with Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing) and others as one of the most notorious criminals housed at ADX Florence, aka Supermax.
Known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies," Supermax houses more than 450 of the government's most dangerous perpetrators. Described as a "clean version of hell," the facility allows inmates little to no contact with the outside world. "Florence is the most secure prison in the country, and it practices extreme isolation as the norm," says Marc Mauer, director of the Sentencing Project, a prison reform campaign group.
Transferred from the less-restrictive but still high-security penitentiary facility in Florence, Abdulmutallab will serve his life sentence at Supermax for the failed attempt on December 25, 2009 to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in route from Amsterdam to Detroit. He attempted to ignite a bomb hidden in his underwear shortly before the plane touched down, but the device was a dud and merely smoked, burning Abdulmutallab's groin as crewmembers extinguished the flames and subdued the passenger. Officials say al-Qaeda assisted Abdulmutallab in his attempted mass destruction.
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There's been no official comment as to why Abdulmutallab was transferred to the Supermax. The prison's spokesperson, Edmond Ross, has said only that "every individual is reviewed, and they are placed in the appropriate secured facility."
Then again, Attorney General Eric Holder previously hinted that Supermax might be the right fit for Abdulmutallab. In a Justice Department news release after his sentencing, Holder said, "As this investigation and prosecution have shown, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab is a remorseless terrorist who believes it is his duty to kill Americans."
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