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Wednesday, 26 December, 2001, 18:41 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.

Abdul Haqq Baker, the chairman of the Brixton mosque in south London, said he warned police about extremist elements operating in the area five years ago.

Richard Reid
Richard Reid was 'attracted to extremists'

Mr Reid, 28, also shares a connection with Zacarias Moussaoui - the only person so far charged in connection with the 11 September terror attacks in the US.

Both men had been worshippers at the Brixton mosque in south London.

Assault

US officials, quoted on CNN, said several men detained in Afghanistan have said they recognised Mr Reid from terrorist training camps in the country.

But so far there has been no confirmation that he was part of the al-Qaeda network.

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

Zacarias Moussaoui
Moussaoui: Worshipped at Brixton mosque

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

'Extreme elements'

Mr 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
Abdul 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 he warned police of his concerns about extremist elements, but no action was taken.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said they could not comment on specific cases.

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

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

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
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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