DETROIT -- A Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up an international flight near Detroit on Christmas told a federal judge Monday he wants to represent himself in court.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds advised Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab not to go that route, but he insisted.
"I would prefer to represent myself," Abdulmutallab told her during his first court appearance since being arraigned in January on six charges, including the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Passengers who saw flames pounced on Abdulmutallab, subdued him and forced him to the front of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit Metropolitan Airport last Dec. 25 carrying nearly 300 people. Authorities say he was trying to set off explosives hidden in his underwear.
The incident exposed flaws in security and intelligence. Abdulmutallab's father warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that his son had drifted into extremism in Yemen, but he never was added to the "no-fly" list, which would have kept him off the plane.
The White House in January said the U.S. government had enough information to potentially disrupt the plot by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula but failed to connect the dots.
Abdulmutallab has not been silent while in custody. In February, law enforcement officials said he had turned against Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born Yemeni radical who claims to be his teacher, and had helped the U.S. hunt for him.
Dutch tourist Jasper Schuringa has been credited with stopping Abdulmutallab on Flight 253. From several seats away, he said he jumped to extinguish a fire just moments after Abdulmutallab told passengers his stomach was upset and pulled a blanket over himself.
"I didn't think. I just jumped. I just went over there and tried to save the plane," Schuringa told CNN in December.