- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2002

LONDON Richard Reid, the British "shoe-bomb" suspect charged with attempted mass murder aboard a trans-Atlantic airliner, plans to defend himself by arguing that he was carrying out the work of Allah, lawyers say.
Reid, 28, will maintain his innocence when his case is heard in November, even though he is expected to accept that he was trying to set off explosives packed in his sneakers aboard the flight.
Lawyers have said he also will decline the option of pleading not guilty due to diminished responsibility because he wants a "show trial," where he will argue that he was carrying out God's will.
Reid was overpowered on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami in December. He was caught by a stewardess as he tried to light a fuse protruding from one of his shoes.
He is in jail in South Walpole, Mass., awaiting trial in U.S. District Court in Boston on a charge of the attempted murder of 197 passengers and crew and could be imprisoned for life. He pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and eight other related charges at a hearing in January.
Lawyers who have visited him said he has remained calm in the face of interrogation by U.S. authorities and has refused to answer any questions. One lawyer said, "He knows exactly what he is doing. He wants to plead not guilty so there is a trial so he can turn it into a show trial.
"Although the law allows him to enter a plea of not guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility, he is not interested."
A leading British lawyer has provided an account of Reid's state of mind after visiting him in prison earlier this year. Peter Herbert of the Society of Black Lawyers said he was lucid, articulate and calm.
"He spoke clearly and well and was fully aware of his situation," he said. "His mother had specifically requested that we assist with his representation to ensure that he was treated appropriately."
Reid's lawyers lost a legal battle last week to strike "al Qaeda" from the indictment against him. Their argument that such references would be unnecessary and inflammatory was dismissed. The indictment states that Reid was trained by the Islamic terrorist organization in Afghanistan.
Reid was a late convert to Islam. He was born in London, the son of a Jamaican father and British mother, and was involved in petty crime from a young age.
He began attending mosques in his early 20s. He was regularly seen at Brixton Mosque and Finsbury Park Mosque, which both have been linked to the fostering of extremism. It is there, reportedly, that he met al Qaeda contacts.
U.S. authorities believe he planned the jet attack with the help of a terrorist cell in Paris. Five other suspects have been arrested.
His case also has been linked to the murder of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped earlier this year while investigating Reid's links to Pakistani militants. Last week, a British man, Ahmed Omar Saeed, was sentenced to death in Pakistan for Mr. Pearl's killing.
Disclosure of Reid's defense strategy follows the guilty plea entered by John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban" captured in Afghanistan. After a plea-bargain, Lindh, who could have faced life in prison, was sentenced to 20 years.
Another accused Islamic terrorist, Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man arrested for involvement in the September 11 attacks, last week admitted his role in the atrocity, but a judge refused to immediately accept his guilty plea.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide