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Sunday, 23 December, 2001, 06:07 GMT
FBI quiz plane explosives man
FBI agents detained the suspect (r) on arrival
FBI agents detained the suspect (r) on arrival
FBI investigators are interrogating a man who tried to ignite explosives in his shoe during a flight from Paris to the United States.

American Airlines flight 63 en route to Miami was escorted in to land at Boston's Logan airport by two F-15 fighter jets after the man was subdued by crew members and passengers.

They X-rayed the shoe and found that in the heel, there were holes drilled, and there looked to be a detonator wire, and the substances consistent with [the explosive] C-4

Airport official Laura White
The man, of Middle Eastern appearance, was travelling on a British passport, issued in the name of Richard Reid in Belgium three weeks ago.

Correspondents say the incident will fuel American and British fears that so-called "sleepers" working for Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network are planning to follow up the 11 September attacks with more atrocities.

Police at Logan airport
The plane was surrounded by police on arrival
The US Federal Aviation Authority had issued an advisory on terrorism ahead of the Christmas season, including a warning to watch for explosives hidden in footwear.

A spokeswoman was unable to say whether the British embassy in Brussels had issued a passport in the name of Richard Reid, or whether a man called Richard Reid had reported that his passport had been stolen.

A spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said it was seeking consular access as was customary in cases involving UK citizens.

The White House said President George W Bush had been kept fully informed.

Strapped to a seat

Tom Kinton, director of aviation at Logan airport, said the crew on board had subdued the passenger and prevented "something serious" from happening.

The Boeing 767, which had taken off from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, was carrying 185 passengers and 12 crew.

Mr Kinton said that the man, apparently in his late twenties, had attempted to detonate an "improvised explosive" in his footwear.

The flight attendants and passengers who helped subdue the suspect showed great bravery and poise in what was obviously a very dangerous situation

Massachusetts Acting Governor Jane Swift

"I'm told the flight attendant was drawn to him by the smell of sulphur from a lit match, and then challenged him as to what he was doing," said Mr Kinton.

The flight attendant also saw a wire or detonation cord sticking out of the shoe.

The 1.95 metre (6 ft 4 in) man became violent when tackled by cabin staff, resisting and biting one woman flight attendant.

Passengers help to control him by strapping him into a seat, some of them using their belts, where he was sedated by two doctors.

Massachusetts Acting Governor Jane Swift praised the poise and bravery of those who subdued the man.

USS Cole explosive

The man, who was travelling alone and without any luggage, is now being questioned by officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Flight 63 Boeing 767 at Logan airport
The plane was en route from Paris
An X-ray of the shoe revealed enough explosives to cause significant destruction.

"They X-rayed the shoe and found that in the heel, there were holes drilled, and there looked to be a detonator wire, and the substances consistent with [the explosive] C-4," airport official Laura White said.

C-4 is a military plastic explosive. The whitish, putty-like substance can be easily moulded by hand, and needs to be exploded with a detonator, said explosives engineer Sidney Alford.

It was used in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, which killed 17 US sailors and wounded 39.

The BBC's Claire Marshall
"Everyone on board was asked to give witness statements"
Passenger Jacques Valleau
"We smelt something burning on the plane"
Director of Aviation at Logan Airport, Tom Kinton
"The passenger became violent and fought with two flight attendants"
See also:

23 Dec 01 | Americas
Onboard struggle to subdue suspect
23 Dec 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Al-Qaeda threat lives on
13 Sep 01 | Americas
No passport, no ticket - no problem
12 Nov 01 | Americas
UN renews anti-terror drive
21 Dec 01 | Americas
More groups join US terror blacklist
11 Dec 01 | Europe
Looking for European al-Qaeda
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