- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2002

Terrorism suspect Richard C. Reid will be arraigned today in federal court in Boston on charges of trying to destroy a Paris-to-Miami jetliner with explosives hidden in his sneakers.

The 28-year-old British citizen, accused of being an al Qaeda-trained terrorist, is scheduled for a 10 a.m. appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judith Dein at the U.S. District Court in Boston.

On Wednesday, a federal grand jury accused Reid in a nine-count indictment with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted homicide of U.S. nationals overseas, placing an explosive device on an aircraft and the attempted murders of aircraft passengers.

He also was charged with two counts of interfering with a flight crew, attempting to destroy an aircraft, using a destructive device during a crime of violence and, under the new USA Patriot Act, the attempted wrecking of a mass-transportation vehicle.

If convicted on all nine counts, Reid faces up to five life sentences.

Two of the nine counts against Reid said he received terrorist training from al Qaeda, although they did not say he acted on the orders from the group.

Tamar R. Birckhead, an assistant federal public defender representing Reid, told reporters yesterday the indictment was "merely an accusation and no more."

She said the indictment "does not allege that any of the crimes charged were committed on behalf of or to further the cause of al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. We are aware of no basis for such an allegation."

Reid was arrested on Dec. 22 after crew members and passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 63 bound from Paris to Miami overpowered him as he attempted to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes. The Boeing 767 jetliner was diverted for an emergency landing in Boston and escorted to Logan International Airport by two U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets.

The plane had 185 passengers and 12 crew members aboard.

Federal authorities said Reid was overpowered after he attempted to ignite 10 ounces of explosives hidden in his sneakers.

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