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Saturday, 29 December, 2001, 06:50 GMT
FBI says shoe bomber had help
Richard Reid in his first court appearance
Mr Reid faces 20 years' prison if convicted
FBI investigators believe Richard Reid, the British man suspected of trying to detonate explosives on board a US-bound flight last weekend, must have had help planning such a sophisticated attack.

Investigators say the amount of plastic explosives, which were hidden in his shoes, could have blown a hole in the fusilage of the American Airlines flight.

[The explosives] if placed beside an outer wall could have or would have created a large hole in the fuselage of the plane

Margaret G Cronin, FBI special agent

A court in Boston was told on Friday by an FBI agent that Mr Reid tried to explode a "homemade bomb" before he was tackled and subdued by other passengers on the flight from Paris to Miami.

The FBI is investigating whether Mr Reid, who converted to Islam while in a British prison, had any contact with fighters from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

A US federal magistrate ordered that Mr Reid continue to be held to "assure the safety of the community".

Mr Reid, 28, is accused of intimidation or assault of a flight crew member and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The FBI has indicated further charges could follow.

Improvised bomb

Mr Reid showed little emotion as he appeared, shackled, in an orange jumpsuit in front of the court and spent the majority of the 17-minute hearing with his head bowed.

American Airlines Flight 63
The explosives could have blown a hole in the side of the plane

Giving evidence for the first time, FBI Special Agent Margaret G Cronin said Mr Reid was found to have been carrying "functioning improvised explosives, or, in layman's terms, a homemade bomb".

The suspect is alleged to have tried to detonate explosives packed in his shoes by igniting his shoelaces on board American Airlines Flight 63 last Saturday.

Mr Reid smiled as Agent Cronin told the court how he was tackled by other passengers, who restrained him using belts and neckties as the plane was diverted to Boston, where Mr Reid was arrested.

Terror links

Authorities are investigating whether Mr Reid, a convert to Islam, has any links to international terrorist groups.

Richard Reid after his arrest
Authorities are investigating links with international terrorism

Agent Cronin, a specialist in airline crimes, said preliminary tests on his shoes showed they contained enough explosives to blow a hole in the side of the aircraft.

"[The explosives] if placed beside an outer wall could have or would have created a large hole in the fuselage of the plane."

Ordering Mr Reid to be detained, Magistrate Judith Dean said she believed "there is probable cause that the defendant committed the crime charged".

The BBC's Fergal Parkinson in Boston
"He'll remain in custody here until this investigation is complete"
The BBC's George Eykyn
details the FBI's investigation into Richard Reid
Reid's mother Lesley Hughes
"I am deeply shocked and concerned about the allegations made against my son"
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