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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 14:02 GMT
Shoe bomb suspect 'brainwashed'
Richard Reid
Richard Reid has pleaded not guilty to nine charges
The Briton accused of attempting to blow up a transatlantic airliner using explosives hidden in his shoes was "brainwashed" by Islamic militants, his father has said.

In his first broadcast interview, Robin Reid told BBC Radio Five Live he would stand by his son Richard, and "give him all of the support I can".

Richard Reid pleaded not guilty to charges including attempted murder and attempted destruction of an aircraft when he appeared before a Boston court last week.

The US Justice Department says it believes the 28-year-old to be a highly-trained terrorist linked to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

I would smash their skulls in if I had a chance for doing what they did to my son

Robin Reid

If convicted of the nine charges levelled at him, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

But Robin Reid says he believes Richard may have been hypnotised or drugged after "falling into the hands" of fundamentalists.

"My son was not right in the head," he said.

"I became a Muslim myself for a little bit, and nowhere in the Koran does it teach you to go around blowing up people or aircraft.

"They brainwashed him into believing that this was the thing to do."

Respect for life

Mr Reid, who says he is "dumbfounded" by the allegations against his son, said he had been in prison for most of Richard's childhood.

"I was not there to give him the love and affection he should have got," he said.

But he said fundamentalists had taught his son "something I did not teach him - a hatred of anything western".

"I would smash their skulls in if I had a chance for doing what they did to my son."

"I brought him up to respect life.

Not once has there been any advocation whatsoever of murdering Americans or killing innocent civilians

Brixton Mosque chairman, Abdul Haqq Baker

"We all get depressed enough to commit suicide - but to take 197 other people with you, that is a joke."

Mr Reid claims his son met extremists at Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in south London.

"I went there a couple of times myself and their teachings are not in accord with the Koran," he said.

But the mosque's chairman, Abdul Haqq Baker, denied Mr Reid's accusations.

'Tempted away'

He said everything taught at the mosque was in "accordance with the teachings of the Koran and the authentic traditions of our prophet, Mohammed, as understood by the early generations who practised and knew the religion best".

"Not once has there been any advocation whatsoever of murdering Americans or killing innocent civilians," he told Five Live.

"Our creed is the pure, orthodox way of Islam, which is totally against this kind of thing."

Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre
Robin Reid says his son met extremists at Brixton Mosque

Mr Baker added: "We have individuals at every level of the community who know exactly what is happening - from the discussions that take place in the canteens right through our Islamic curriculum.

"We are a very close-knit and small community and our management is very hands-on."

Richard Reid was "tempted away" by "individuals who set up a few years ago away from the mosque", Mr Baker said.

"Their teachings were a lot more militant.

"His father is looking for a scapegoat at the moment, which obviously deflects things from himself.

"His failure is his failure - but it should not be meted out on anyone else."

See also:

28 Dec 01 | UK
Who is Richard Reid?
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