By Susan Crabtree - 01/08/10 09:43 PM EST
More than 20 Republican senators wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on Friday objecting to the administration’s decision to try terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in civilian courts.
The GOP senators want the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of trying to bomb a Northwest Airlines jet tried in military courts and declared an enemy combatant. By bringing Abdulmutallab before a judge and allowing him to face charges, critics say, the administration is missing an opportunity to interrogate him more thoroughly.
Critical questions, the senators argue, remain unanswered, such as whether Abdulmutallab obtained money for the operation, and if so, from whom; the identities of all the people who assisted him; and how he trained for the attempted bombing.
The Republicans penned the letter the same day Abdulmutallab pleaded not guilty in a federal court in Detroit. A U.S. grand jury on Wednesday indicted him on six counts in the alleged plot, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a penalty of up to life in prison, attempted murder, and willful attempt to destroy or wreck an aircraft.
His next appearance in court was not set Friday.
Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb made from explosives PETN and TATP as Northwest Flight 253 was descending into Detroit en route from Amsterdam. There were 279 passengers and 11 crew members on board. The flight landed safely after passengers and crew subdued him.