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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Suspect in Shoe-Bomb Case Pleads Not Guilty

January 19, 2002|From Associated Press

BOSTON — A man allegedly trained by Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network pleaded not guilty Friday to trying to blow up a transatlantic flight with bombs hidden in his shoes.

Richard C. Reid, a 28-year-old British citizen, shuffled into a federal courtroom in shackles and answered "not guilty" to eight charges, including the attempted murder of 197 passengers and crew members aboard an American Airlines flight last month. A judge also entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to a ninth charge.

Reid was initially charged with interfering with a flight crew. New charges issued this week accuse him of having been trained in Afghanistan and of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Reid was subdued by flight attendants and passengers on the Paris-to-Miami flight Dec. 22 after he allegedly attempted to light a fuse protruding from his shoes.

"If it weren't for them, this most definitely would have been a disaster," Charles Prouty, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office, said after the hearing.

The case is being prosecuted in Boston because the plane was diverted to the city's Logan International Airport.

Among the charges is attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle, which was enacted by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Reid's attorney, Tamar Birckhead, asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Dein to enter a not guilty plea on Reid's behalf, questioning whether the American flight would qualify as mass transportation.

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