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Friday, December 28, 2001  

12:15 27/12/2001 Last update - 12:47 27/12/2001

'Shoe bomber' suspect visited Israel

By Sharon Sadeh,
Ha'aretz Correspondent and Reuters


RICHARD Reid, who is suspected of trying to blow up a Paris-Miami flight over the Atlantic, visited Israel seven months ago, according to a report published Wednesday by the French daily Le Monde. Israeli security officials and the FBI are currently investigating the purpose of Reid's visit and with whom he met during his stay.

Richard Reid, in US prison orange jumpsuit garb (AP Photo)
Citing French investigators, the French daily Le Parisien reported Thursday that Reid was given his explosive sneakers by unknown accomplices in Amsterdam. The paper said Reid came to Amsterdam following a trip to Israel and Egypt. On December 7, he traveled to Brussels to apply for a new British passport.

"He wanted to eradicate evidence of his trips in order to be able to pass more easily through customs controls," a French investigator told the newspaper.

On December 14, he returned to Amsterdam, where he was given the shoes, each one filled with about 120 grams of the granular explosive pentrite, and two detonating cords, the paper reported.

The 28-year-old Briton was under 24-hour guard in Boston awaiting a new court hearing on Friday after he was overpowered by flight attendants and fellow-passengers on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris on Saturday.

Reid was tied up with belts and headphone cables after flight attendants saw him apparently trying to set fire to his shoes, which were later found to be packed with explosives and a detonator cord.

U.S. officials in Boston said after Reid was detained on Saturday that they thought his British passport, issued in Belgium three weeks earlier, was fake. New details of Reid emerged on Wednesday when the chairman of a mosque in the Brixton district of south London said the suspect had been a worshipper there before being seduced by the propaganda of Muslim extremists.

"The way he tried to commit this act shows his gullibility," Abdul Haqq Baker said, describing Reid as a guinea pig for other militants bent on terror attacks.

"He was sent as a tester. We here at the center honestly believe there are more serious things to come and we have told the police that. I would say he was very, very impressionable," Baker told reporters.

In a later interview with CNN, Baker said Reid had rung mental alarm bells when he became fixed on the idea of jihad, or holy war.

"What was wrong for example with killing innocent civilians, what was wrong with terrorism and suicide bombings, what was wrong with the understanding that we were living in the West and this is a place of war. This was the sort of thing that alerted us," Baker said.

The FBI also thinks Reid's "shoe bombs" were sophisticated enough to suggest he had an accomplice, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday. Establishing whether the suspect acted alone has been a main focus of the FBI investigation.

Baker told reporters in Brixton that Reid, who was known to him as Abdel Rahim, was recruited by militants in London's Muslim community. "If they have got the likes of Rahim, there are a lot more and we are very concerned about that," Baker said.

Earlier, he told BBC Radio that Reid had come to the mosque for instruction having converted to Islam in prison. "He was a very amiable, cooperative individual in the early part . . . Toward the end of his period with us, we noticed a change."

Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Timothy Bane said Reid was being held in isolation under constant surveillance at the Plymouth County jail.

Related item on this website:

Eye-witness account of mid-air Paris-Miami drama
Damage control by Israelis

Our attention was first drawn to this by a British correspondent who wrote on Thursday, December 27, 2001:

WE know that Richard Colvin Reid, the alleged British Moslem "shoebomber" had a valid British passport that was issued in Belgium on December 7th. According to the French authorities "his previous passport, which expired in July, was attached, and contained a visa for Israel issued in the spring." [New York Times, 25th Dec. ] I'm not one for conspiracy theories but this little fact has gone relatively unnoticed! It fits in well with some other stories that you post, I wonder if you know anything more about this?

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