03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Reading the Pictures: This Kid Abdulmutallab

The collection of pictures circulating of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on a school trip to London in '03 is making it near impossible for the right-wing to hype his danger. This shot, in particular -- not exactly giving "this kid" (as Maddow refers to him) the same vibe as a Zacarias Moussaoui (pic) or Richard Reid (pic) -- makes the argument for extra-judicial prosecution almost laughable. (Both Moussaoui and Reid, of course, were tried in U.S. courts and are being housed in U.S. prisons.)
The fact most of those pictures show Abdulmutallab as depressed and forlorn also flies in the face of the right-wing stereotype of jihadists as monsters. On the contrary, they actually amplify the core problem underlying Islamic terrorism, which is the real-life vulnerability and susceptibility of so many disillusioned young Muslims.

For a breakdown on the latest visual spin, visit

(photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images, 2003, London, England)

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