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Wednesday, 26 December, 2001, 17:03 GMT
Shoe bomb suspect's unusual profile
Richard Reid
Richard Reid converted to Islam
Jonathan Marcus

The background of the would-be suicide bomber who tried to blow himself up aboard an American Airlines jet appears to be very different to that of the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks on the United States.

Richard Reid - who was subdued by the crew and passengers - has now been identified as a British-born man who converted to Islam and seems to have been radicalised by people he may have met in the Muslim community in London.

Brixton Mosque
Mr Reid attended this London mosque
But while his identity is now clear, the path that took him from small-time criminal to would-be suicide bomber remains unknown.

What is clear is that he is unlikely to have acted alone, nor would he have possessed the skills to manufacture the improvised explosive device that he tried to detonate on board Flight 63 from Paris to Miami.

Senior figures at the Brixton Mosque where he worshipped have claimed that they raised concerns about Mr Reid's behaviour some five years ago but that the British police did little.

This is a worrying development for the authorities.

Al-Qaeda links probed

Most of the individuals involved in the 11 September attacks on the US appear to have been Saudi or Egyptian nationals, albeit people who had spent some time in the United States.

Flight 63 Boeing 767 at Logan airport
The plane was en route from Paris

No links have yet been established between Mr Reid and Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

But the possibility that individuals among local Muslim communities in the West may have been recruited for terrorist acts gives this whole campaign an additional dimension.

It underscores once again the delicate balance that must be struck by the authorities in Britain and elsewhere.

On the one hand, they must clamp down on those seen as a threat, but they also must maintain due regard for the civil liberties of the majority of the population, whatever their religious beliefs or background.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sarah Lockett
"The 28-year-old has spent time in jail before"
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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