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Shoe bomb

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Shoe bomb

This article is about the "shoe bomber". For other uses, see Richard Reid (disambiguation).

Richard Reid
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Born Richard Colvin Reid
(1973-08-12) 12 August 1973 (age 40)
Bromley, London, England
Nationality British
Other names Abdel Rahim, Abdul Rof
Criminal charge Attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction
Attempted homicide
Placing an explosive device on an aircraft
Attempted murder
Interference with flight crew and attendants
Attempted destruction of an aircraft
Use of a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence
Attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle[1]
Criminal penalty Three consecutive life sentences and 110 years without parole
Criminal status Incarcerated at ADX Florence, Colorado, United States
Conviction(s) Guilty of all charges

Richard Colvin Reid (born 12 August 1973), also known as the Shoe Bomber, is an Englishman who attempted to detonate explosives packed into the shoes he was wearing, while on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami. In 2002, Reid pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to eight criminal counts of terrorism, based on his attempt to destroy a commercial aircraft in-flight. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole and is held in a super maximum security prison in the United States of America.

Born to a father who was a career criminal, Reid converted to Islam as a young man in prison after years as a petty criminal. Later he became radicalized and went to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he trained and became a member of al-Qaeda.

On 22 December 2001, he boarded American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami, wearing shoes packed with explosives, which he unsuccessfully tried to detonate. Passengers subdued him on the plane, which landed at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, the closest US airport. He was subsequently arrested and indicted.

Background

Reid was born in Bromley, Kent,[2] to Leslie Hughes, who was of white English descent, and Colvin Robin Reid, a man of mixed race whose father was a Jamaican immigrant.[3] When Reid was born, his father, a career criminal, was in jail for stealing a car.[3] Reid left school at age 16, becoming a petty crook who was in and out of jail, the first time for mugging an elderly person.[3] He began writing graffiti under the name Enrol with FRF crew,[4][5] and ultimately accumulated more than 10 convictions for crimes against persons and property.[6] He served sentences at the Feltham Young Offenders Institution[7] and at the Blundeston Prison.[8] According to his father, Reid became depressed and blamed racism for some of his problems.

His father advised him to convert to Islam, telling him that Muslims were more egalitarian and they got better food in prison. The next time Reid was incarcerated (in 1995 for petty theft), he converted.[3][9][10]

Islamic radicalization

Upon his release from prison in 1996,[8] he joined the Brixton Mosque.[9][11] He later began attending the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London headed at that time by the anti-American cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and described as "the heart of the extremist Islamic culture" in Britain.[3][9] By 1998 Reid was voicing extremist views,[3] and may have fallen under the sway of "terrorist talent spotters and handlers" allied with Al Qaeda.[9]

He spent 1999 and 2000 in Pakistan and trained at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan, according to several informants.[3] He may also have attended an anti-American religious training center in Lahore as a follower of Mubarak Ali Gilani.[12] During this time he met Saajid Badat.

After his return to Britain, Reid worked to obtain duplicate passports from British government consulates abroad. He lived and traveled in numerous places in Europe, communicating via an address in Peshawar, Pakistan, a city known for its Al Qaeda connections.[3] In July 2001, Reid flew to Israel, passing through the El Al airline's very tight security network.[9] He moved to Amsterdam, living there from August 2001 until November 2001, and working as a dishwasher.

Preparation for bombing

Reid and Saajid Badat, another British man preparing as a terrorist, returned to Pakistan in November 2001, and reportedly travelled overland to Afghanistan. They were given "shoe bombs", casual footwear adapted to be covertly smuggled onto aircraft before being used to destroy them. Later forensic analysis of both bombs showed that they contained the same plastic explosive and that the respective lengths of detonator cord had come from the same batch: the cut mark on Badat's cord exactly matches that on Reid's. The pair returned separately to the United Kingdom in early December 2001. Reid went to Belgium for 10 days before catching a train to Paris on 16 December.[6]

On 21 December 2001, Reid attempted to board a flight from Paris, France to Miami, Florida. His boarding was delayed because his dishevelled physical appearance aroused the suspicions of the airline passenger screeners. In addition, Reid did not answer all of their questions, and had not checked any luggage for the transatlantic flight. Additional screening by the French National Police resulted in Reid's being re-issued a ticket for a flight on the following day.[13] He returned to the Paris airport on 22 December 2001, and boarded American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami, wearing his special shoes packed with plastic explosives in their hollowed-out bottoms.

Bombing attempt on American Airlines Flight 63

Main article: 2001 shoe bomb plot

On 22 December 2001, a passenger on Flight 63 from Paris to Miami, complained of a smoke smell in the cabin shortly after a meal service. One flight attendant, Hermis Moutardier, thinking she smelled a burnt match, walked the aisles of the plane, trying to assess the source. A passenger pointed to Reid, who was sitting alone near a window and attempting to light a match. Moutardier warned him that smoking was not allowed on the airplane. Reid promised to stop.

A few minutes later, Moutardier found Reid leaned over in his seat. Her attempts to get his attention failed. After asking "What are you doing?" Reid grabbed at her, revealing one shoe in his lap, a fuse which led into the shoe, and a lit match. She tried grabbing Reid twice, but he pushed her to the floor each time, and she yelled for help, and ran to get water. When another flight attendant, Cristina Jones, arrived to try to subdue him, he fought her, biting her thumb, and Moutardier threw water in his face. Several passengers worked together to subdue the 6 foot 4 inch (193 cm) tall, 200+ pound (90+ kg) Reid. They restrained him using plastic handcuffs, seatbelt extensions, leather waist belts, and headphone cords. A physician on board administered a tranquilizer to him which he found in the emergency medical kit of the airliner.[14] This flight was immediately diverted to Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, the closest US airport.[15]

The explosive apparently did not detonate due to the delay in the take-off of Reid's flight. The rainy weather, perhaps along with Reid's foot perspiration, caused the fuse to be too damp to ignite.[16]

Legal proceedings and sentencing

Reid was immediately arrested at Logan International Airport after the incident. Two days later, he was charged before a federal court in Boston with "interfering with the performance of duties of flight crew members by assault or intimidation", a crime which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. (Additional charges were added when he was formally indicted by a grand jury.) The judge ordered Reid held in jail without bail, pending trial due to the gravity of the crimes and the perceived high risk that he would try to flee.[13] At that time, forensic results indicated Reid's shoes contained 10 ounces (283g) of C-4 plastic explosives, enough to blow a hole in the plane and cause it to crash.[13]

During a preliminary hearing on 28 December, an FBI agent testified that forensic analysis had identified the chemicals as PETN, the primary explosive, and TATP (triacetone triperoxide), a chemical needed to detonate the bomb.[6] The prosecutor obtained a grand jury indictment and on 16 January 2002, Reid was charged with eight criminal counts related to terrorism, namely:

  • attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction,
  • attempted homicide,
  • placing an explosive device on an aircraft,
  • attempted murder,
  • interference with flight crew members and attendants,
  • attempted destruction of an aircraft,
  • using a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence, and
  • attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle.[1]

Reid pleaded guilty to all eight counts on 4 October 2002.[17] On 31 January 2003, he was sentenced by Judge William Young to the maximum of three consecutive life sentences and 110 years with no possibility of parole.[18] Reid was also fined the maximum of $250,000 on each count, a total of $2 million.[18][19]

During the sentencing hearing, Reid said he was an enemy of the United States and in league with Al-Qaeda.[20] When Reid said he was a soldier of God under the command of Osama bin Laden, Judge Young responded:

"You are not an enemy combatant, you are a terrorist" ... "You are not a soldier in any army, you are a terrorist. To call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. (points to U.S. flag) You see that flag, Mr. Reid? That is the flag of the United States of America. That flag will be here long after you are forgotten."[18][21]
Reid reportedly demonstrated a lack of remorse and a combative nature during the hearing, and said that "the flag will come down on the day of judgment."[18][19] He is serving his sentence at the United States Penitentiary, Florence ADX in Colorado, a supermax facility which holds the most dangerous prisoners in the federal system.[22]

Conspirators

Main article: Saajid Badat

Although Reid had insisted that he had acted alone and had built the bombs himself, forensic evidence included material from another person.[18] Later, a British man, Saajid Badat from Gloucester, England, admitted that he had conspired with Richard Reid and a Tunisian man (Nizar Trabelsi, who is in jail in Belgium), in a plot to blow up two airliners bound for the United States, using their shoe bombs.[23] Badat has said that he had been instructed to board a flight from Amsterdam to the United States. Badat never boarded and withdrew from his part of the conspiracy. Badat did not warn criminal or aviation authorities about Reid.

Badat confessed immediately after being arrested by the British police. The detonator cord in Badat's bomb was found by experts to be an exact match for the cord on Reid's bomb,[24] and their explosive chemicals were essentially identical.[23] He had received the bomb-making materials from an Arab in Afghanistan. Badat was sentenced to 13 years in prison by a British judge and has since been released.[24]

Changes in airline security procedures

As a result of these events, airlines required passengers departing from an airport in the United States to pass through airport security in socks or bare feet while their shoes are scanned for bombs.[25] Scanners do not find PETN in shoes or strapped to a person. A chemical test is needed.[26] However, even if the x-ray scanners cannot detect all explosives, it is an effective way to see if the shoe has been altered to hold a bomb.[27]

In 2011, the rules were relaxed to allow children 12 and younger to keep their shoes on during security screenings.[28]

Alleged role in the 11 September attacks

The captured Al-Qaeda terrorist conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui, stated at his sentencing hearing in 2006 that Reid was a co-conspirator in the 11 September 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, and that Moussaoui and Reid had intended to hijack a fifth aircraft and crash it into the White House in Washington, D.C., as part of the attacks that took place that day. Department of Justice investigators and the federal prosecutors were skeptical of Moussaoui's claim that Reid was involved in the plot.[29]

Prison restrictions

Reid filed a lawsuit against the restrictions placed on him in prison which controlled his communications with lawyers and other non-prisoners, limited his access to Muslim clerics, and prevented him from joining in group prayer at the prison. In 2009, Reid went on a hunger strike and was force-fed and hydrated for several weeks. It was unknown whether Reid's hunger strike was related to his lawsuit.[30] The Department of Justice, after consulting with its Counterterrorism Section, the prosecuting Federal District Attorney's office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, allowed these prison restrictions on Reid to expire during 2009, making his lawsuit moot.[31]

See also

References

External links

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