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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 18:35 GMT
Bomb suspect held for Friday hearing
Artist's rendering of the man known as Richard Reid appearing in a Boston court on Monday
Mr Reid said only one word in court
The man suspected of trying to blow up a transatlantic airliner with explosives hidden in his shoes has been ordered to appear in a Boston court on Friday.

In a brief hearing on Monday, the man, identified in court documents as British citizen Richard Reid, was asked if he understood the charges against him, intimidation and assault.

The BBC's Tim Franks in Washington says Mr Reid replied "Yeah" - the only word he spoke during the hearing.

For the moment, we do not know how this man got through

French police official
He allegedly tried to detonate explosives packed in the heels of his shoes during a flight from Paris to Miami on Saturday before being overpowered by passengers and crew.

US officials are reported to have no evidence linking Mr Reid to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, which the US accuses of carrying out the 11 September suicide attacks.

But security experts say it is unlikely that he was acting alone, given the sophisticated explosives he was allegedly carrying.

Our correspondent says Mr Reid will appear on Friday for a "probable cause" hearing - to establish if there are sufficient grounds to hold him.

The court has appointed a lawyer for him.

New passport

Intelligence agents in Britain, France and the US are trying to gather information about the man, whose real name has not been definitively established.

AA explosives suspect
The suspect was given a court-appointed attorney
He was carrying a UK passport and a British consular official met Mr Reid ahead of his court appearance to discuss the conditions under which he was being held.

However, his UK passport had been issued at the British consulate in Brussels recently, and it is still unclear whether it was false or obtained using false identity papers.

French police sources in Paris said that Mr Reid also identified himself as Tariq Raja, born in 1973 in Sri Lanka, and as Abdel Rahim, a name reflecting a conversion to Islam.

If convicted as charged so far, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The FBI is expected to file more charges against him.

French authorities are trying to establish how the passenger managed to get on board, given the heightened security put in place after 11 September.

Security has been stepped up at both France's Charles de Gaulle airport - where the flight originated - and Boston's Logan airport, to which it was diverted after Mr Reid was overpowered.

Passengers are now required to take off their shoes and put them through X-ray machines.

Fighter escort

Security check at Logan airport, Boston
Passengers' footwear is now being screened
It is reported that the suspect had tried to board the Paris-to-Miami the day before but was prevented from doing so because he was acting suspiciously, had a one-way ticket and was carrying little luggage.

"For the moment, we do not know how this man got through," a French police official at Charles de Gaulle airport told the AFP news agency.

Passengers and crew overpowered the man after he appeared to be trying to set fire to his shoes.

The Boeing 767, escorted by two US F-15 fighter jets, was diverted to Logan Airport where FBI agents detained the man for questioning.

All 185 passengers and 12 crew members on American Airlines flight 63 were evacuated safely.

The passengers were all questioned before completing their trip to Miami early on Sunday.

It is suspected that the explosive in the suspect's shoe was C-4, a military plastic explosive.

It can be easily moulded by hand, and has to be exploded with a detonator.

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 Stephen Sackur
"Security checks did not pick up the plastic explosives"
Charles Shoebridge, a former anti-terroism officer
"It seems we are reacting a little after it has happened"
Passenger Jacques Valleau
"We smelt something burning on the plane"
See also:

23 Dec 01 | Middle East
France tightens airport security
23 Dec 01 | Americas
Onboard struggle to subdue suspect
23 Dec 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Al-Qaeda threat lives on
24 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Air marshals set to deploy
24 Dec 01 | Americas
Tiny bomb 'still threat to plane'
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