- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday rejected a bid by Richard C. Reid to plead guilty to attempting to blow up a commercial airliner in exchange for an agreement to drop charges that he was an al Qaeda-trained terrorist.
"Richard Reid, like any defendant, is free to plead guilty to criminal charges. The Justice Department has not entered into any plea agreement with Reid," Mr. Ashcroft said in a statement. "The Justice Department stands by each and every allegation in the indictment.
"We are prepared to substantiate all of the charges at the hearing," he said.
Reid, a British citizen, said in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Boston that he would plead guilty to eight charges against him if the government would strike paragraphs in two of the counts that accuse him of receiving training from Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.
His attorney, Owen Walker, told reporters that Reid wanted to avoid the publicity of a trial and the negative effect it would have on his family.
The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 4.
Reid, 28, was indicted in January in the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted homicide of U.S. nationals overseas, placing an explosive device on an aircraft, attempted murder of aircraft passengers, interfering with a flight crew, attempting to destroy an aircraft and using a destructive device during a crime of violence.
He also was charged with a new anti-terrorism offense the attempted wrecking of a mass-transportation vehicle created by Congress last year as part of the USA Patriot Act. If convicted on all eight counts, Reid faces up to five life sentences.
In May, federal prosecutors said in court papers that Reid had outside help in his attempt to blow up a Paris-to-Miami jetliner and that his choice of a target was "deliberate and calculated." They said forensic evidence taken from Reid's tennis shoes determined that at least one other person assisted him.
The prosecutors were not specific, and the documents did not say the plot involved named al Qaeda members, but Mr. Ashcroft has described Reid as an al Qaeda-trained terrorist.
The indictment said Reid "received training from al-Qaida in Afghanistan" but provided no other details about his ties to the network.
Reid was arrested Dec. 22 after crew members and passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 63 overpowered him as he purportedly attempted to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes. The aircraft, a Boeing 767 jetliner, was diverted for an emergency landing at Boston's Logan International Airport and was escorted by two U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets.
There were 185 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the plane.
Federal authorities said Reid was overpowered after he attempted to ignite 10 ounces of explosives hidden in his sneakers.
FBI agent Margaret G. Cronin testified that Reid was carrying "functioning improvised explosives, or, in layman's terms, a homemade bomb" and that if the sneakers had been ignited against an outside wall of the aircraft, they "would have blown a hole in the fuselage." Reid sat in a window seat during the flight.
Mrs. Cronin, an explosives expert, told the court that tests by the FBI on Reid's sneakers showed the presence of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a highly volatile plastic explosive.
Preliminary analysis by the FBI laboratory in Washington determined there were two functional improvised explosive devices recovered from Reid's sneakers. TATP is a substance that the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has used in its suicide bombings.

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