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Wednesday, 26 December, 2001, 17:45 GMT
Shoe bomb suspect 'one of many'
The Brixton mosque
Reid attended this mosque in south London
A man who apparently tried to blow himself up on a transatlantic flight is one of about 100 would-be suicide bombers, according to the chairman of a London mosque he attended.

Richard Reid is in custody in the United States after allegedly trying to set off a bomb in his shoe during a Paris-Miami flight at the weekend.

The FBI said it would be charging Mr Reid, 28, with assault and intimidation of the crew of American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami. He is due in court on Friday.

Richard Reid
Richard Reid was 'attracted to extremists'
The Boston Globe newspaper said the FBI believed Mr Reid was part of a "wider network" of Islamic extremists.

Abdul Haqq Baker, chairman of Brixton mosque in south London, has told the BBC that Mr Reid, who is believed to be of Anglo-Jamaican heritage, came to the mosque to learn about Islam but soon fell in with what he called "more extreme elements".

Mr Baker said Mr Reid had converted to Islam while serving time in a British prison for minor offences.

You would have at least 100 or more individuals who would be prepared to do that (blow themselves up)

Abdul Haqq Baker
Chairman, Brixton Mosque
He said Mr Reid took the name, Abdel Rahim, and came to the mosque for instruction in mainstream Islam, initially taking a studious approach.

But he said he later became convinced his teachers were too "passive" in the face of perceived Western injustice.

He said he came into contact with "more extreme elements" in London's Muslim community, started wearing military gear and talking about fighting a jihad or holy war.

Abdul Haqq Baker
Haqq Baker: Extremists preyed on "impressionable youths"
Mr Baker said: "He said we had to revolt against the rulers of the Muslim countries, because they were not actually Muslims."

He said Mr Reid said Muslims who lived in Western society should make plans to revolt against and undermine it.

Mr Baker said there were perhaps as many as 1,000 extremist Muslims in the UK, of whom at least 100 were ready to become suicide bombers.

He said: "Those propagating the extreme views are relatively few in number but in the last four or five years we have witnessed that number grow quite frighteningly."

Sign outside the mosque
Mosque's "passive" teachings questioned
Mr Baker said: "They prey on impressionable youth, those who are new to Islam, those whose understanding of Islam is not that advanced, and those who are quite weak in their character, and have to be led."

When searched Mr Reid was apparently found to have "two functional explosive devices" in his shoes, which contained C-4, a type of plastic explosive.

'Acting suspiciously'

The suspect had reportedly been prevented from boarding a similar flight in Paris the previous day because he was acting suspiciously.

Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin has called on airports to face up to the new kind of threat posed by suicide bombers.

Mr Letwin said this latest incident raised questions about security and nationality.

He said: "As we discovered on 11 September, there are now people who are trying to do very great damage to our society who are willing to kill themselves in the process.

"I suspect that airport security hasn't quite caught up with that ghastly phenomenon."

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Up to 100 extremists could be using the UK as a base"
Abdul Haqq Baker, chairman, Brixton mosque
"As time went on he became more extreme"
Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood
says the Islam followed by the suspected bomber is nothing more than a brainwashing sect
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