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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 22:32 GMT
'Shoe bomber' jailed for life
Richard Reid
Reid was overpowered when he tried to light a fuse
A US federal judge has sentenced "shoe bomber" Richard Reid to life in prison for trying to blow up a Paris-Miami flight with 197 people on board.

Reid, who is British, had pleaded guilty to eight charges - including attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

You are not a soldier - you are a terrorist

Judge William Young
The prosecution welcomed Thursday's sentence.

"Reid's intentions were clear - he wanted to murder innocent people in the name of his fanatical religious beliefs," prosecutor Michael Sullivan said.

Reid was unrepentant in a sentencing hearing that lasted just over 90 minutes.

"I pledge to Osama bin Laden. I'm an enemy of your country," the would-be bomber said, adding that he was a soldier.

Reid's shoes
Reid's shoes were packed with explosives
Judge William Young rejected this claim.

"You are not a soldier - you are a terrorist," he told Reid.

Reid responded by yelling at the judge and had to be wrestled to the ground and removed from the courtroom.

"Your government has sponsored the torture of Muslims in Iraq and Turkey and Jordan and Syria with their money and weapons," he shouted.

Multiple terms

Judge Young handed down the maximum allowable sentence on each of the eight counts Reid faced.

Reid was sentenced to life imprisonment on three of the charges - attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and two counts of interfering with a flight crew.

Motorcade brings shoe bomber Richard Reid to court on Thursday
Reid arrived under heavy security

He was sentenced for an additional 20 years each for attempted homicide; attempted murder; planting an explosive device on an aircraft; and attempted destruction of an aircraft - plus 30 years for using a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence.

The total of 110 years of imprisonment in addition to the life sentences was more than the prosecution had requested.

The terms will run consecutively and effectively rule out any chance for parole, correspondents say.

Prosecutors branded Reid "a committed terrorist who will remain so until his dying days".


Reid was overpowered by passengers and crew members after they saw him attempting to light a fuse protruding from one of his shoes on American Airlines Flight 63 on 22 December, 2001.

Authorities said later that the shoes contained powerful plastic explosives which could have blown a hole in the plane's fuselage and killed all 197 people aboard.

A flight attendant told the court that Reid was on a "mission of evil, a mission of destruction and a mission of murder", the Associated Press news agency reported.

Last week, the judge turned down Reid's request to declassify certain unspecified information about the case.

A petty criminal who converted to Islam while in a British jail, Reid is likely to serve his sentence at the Federal Correction Center in Florence, Colorado.

The BBC's Emma Simpson
"Reid said he wanted to strike a blow against America"
US attorney for Massachusetts Mike Sullivan
"The sentence sends out a strong message"
The BBC's Candace Piette
"Richard Reid lost contact with his family when he began travelling the world"

Key stories

European probe


See also:

04 Oct 02 | Americas
28 Dec 01 | UK
20 Jun 02 | Europe
23 May 02 | Americas
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