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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 20:56 GMT
Shoe bomb suspect 'agent of al-Qaeda'
Richard Reid
Mr Reid was trained by al-Qaeda, indictment says
The United States Government has filed new charges against Richard Reid, the British man who in December allegedly tried to blow up a transatlantic flight with explosives packed in his shoes.

Charges
Attempted use of weapon of mass destruction
Attempted murder
Attempted homicide
Placing an explosive device on an aircraft
Interfering with a flight crew (two counts)
Attempted destruction of an aircraft
Using a destructive device
Attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle
Mr Reid, who was initially charged in Boston with interfering with the crew, now faces charges including attempted murder which carry up to five life sentences, according to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The 12-page indictment alleges that the suspect received training from Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan and says he attempted to kill the passengers on the Paris-Miami American Airlines flight.

Before the indictment was released, the Wall Street Journal reported that a computer allegedly used by al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan contained files with details of a trip which is believed to have been carried out by Mr Reid "scouting" for targets to attack.

Mr Ashcroft said Mr Reid's indictment "alerts us to a clear, unmistakable threat that al-Qaeda could attack the United States again."

"The lessons for Americans are undeniable: We must be prepared. We must be alert. We must be vigilant. Al-Qaeda-trained terrorists may act on their own. Or as part of the terrorist network. But we must assume that they will act," he said.

Advice for missions

Mr Ashcroft said more charges could be brought against Mr Reid if he was found to be the al-Qaeda scout mentioned on files discovered on a computer obtained by the Wall Street Journal in Kabul.


'Scouting trip'

1. "Brother Ra'uff" reportedly flew from the Netherlands to Israel
2. He is said to have identified targets in Israel
3. The files say he travelled overland to Egypt
4. He then flew from Tel Aviv to Turkey
5. "Abdul Ra'uff" is also said to have flown to Pakistan

Mr Reid is known to have flown from Amsterdam to Israel last year on the country's national airline El Al, and investigators believe he also travelled overland to Egypt and by air to Turkey and Pakistan.

The scouting report describes an operative known as "Brother Abdul Ra'uff" who carries out the same trips.

An unnamed US official quoted by AP news agency says it is believed that "Abdul Ra'uff" and Richard Reid are the same man.

Like Mr Reid, the operative travelled on a British passport and was closely questioned by Israeli security.

"Brother Ra'uff" is said to have found exceptionally good targets for attacks in Israel and Egypt.

The report - which figures among more than 1,750 stored on computers bought by the American newspaper in Kabul - was said to have been delivered to al-Qaeda leaders less than a month before the 11 September attacks.

It offers a 26-point summary of advice for would-be operatives seeking to travel either on reconnaissance or attack missions. One of them is to carry a European passport.

It is unclear whether Mr Reid and the operative are the same - but since his apparent attempt to blow up the American Airlines plane, investigators have been trying to establish whether he is linked to al-Qaeda.

FBI agents had earlier said he must have had help planning such a sophisticated attack, which could have blown a hole in the fuselage of the American Airlines flight.

Mr Reid was tackled and subdued by other passengers when he apparently tried to light a fuse, and then taken into custody in Boston.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Fergus Walsh
"Richard Reid will be in court tomorrow"
US Attorney General John Ashcroft
"Reid is charged as an al-Qaeda trained terrorist"
See also:

29 Dec 01 | Americas
FBI says shoe bomber had help
28 Dec 01 | UK
Who is Richard Reid?
28 Dec 01 | Americas
Shoe bomb 'came from Netherlands'
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