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Shoe Bomb Suspect Fatalistic, U.S. Says

Courts: Reid, accused of trying to blow up jet, was resigned to 'death or jail,' prosecutors say.

June 04, 2002|RICHARD A. SERRANO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Alleged terrorist Richard C. Reid acknowledged after his arrest that his plan to blow up a transatlantic airliner last December had failed, and he also said he was resigned to the fact that his mission would end in "death or jail," federal prosecutors revealed Monday.

The prosecutors, in describing Reid's alleged confession as "lengthy and substantial," also noted that the 28-year-old British vagabond was eager to talk about America's war on terrorism but repeatedly refused to speak of Islamic extremist Osama bin Laden.

The prosecutors made their disclosures in federal court in Boston, where Reid, who has pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to be tried in November on charges that include attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. If convicted of the most serious charges, he could be sentenced to life in prison. A copy of the court filing was released in Washington.

Reid's defense lawyers have asked the court to keep his statements to law enforcement agents out of his trial, contending that his remarks were not made voluntarily and that Reid had, at one point, told authorities that he did not wish to speak to them. The filing came in response to that request.

But prosecutors insisted Monday that not only was Reid lucid and cooperative, but he freely spoke to them for hours about the incident, in which he allegedly tried to detonate a bomb hidden in his sneakers and kill the 197 passengers and crew members aboard American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami.

"Not only was Reid willing to talk to agents, by all appearances he wanted to tell his story," prosecutors said.

"Immediately" after he was removed from the plane after it was diverted to Boston on Dec. 22, "Reid inquired repeatedly about reporters and the media," they noted.

"Moreover, Reid was very forthcoming in his post-arrest interviews about his reasons for and his purpose in attempting to detonate an explosive device aboard Flight 63.

"Although Reid considered his 'mission' unsuccessful because the bomb had not detonated, it is apparent that he wanted America to know that the war on terrorism had soldiers on the other side willing and able to attack the United States."

Furthermore, the prosecutors said, Reid realized that the government's case against him was "overwhelming."

"As Reid himself told the investigating agents," the prosecutors said, "he knew there were only two possible outcomes to his mission: 'death or jail.'

"Thus," they said, " ... there was little to no reason for him not to speak to investigators."

But at one point he did just that. According to prosecutors, he twice declined to respond to questions about Bin Laden. The government has alleged that Reid was trained by Al Qaeda, Bin Laden's terrorist organization.

Defense lawyers could not be reached for comment Monday.

A federal judge will rule on whether Reid's statements will be allowed at his trial.

Reid told a Massachusetts state trooper who attempted to speak with him while driving him to jail that "I have nothing else to say."

That statement is the basis for the defense's argument that anything Reid might have said afterward should not be allowed in the trial.

But prosecutors said that agents did not consider the statement to be a blanket refusal to talk.

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