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Shoe bomb suspect 'sent suicide e-mail'

January 19, 2002

Shoe bomb suspect Richard Reid e-mailed an Islamic "martyrdom" note to be published in the event of his success in destroying a US-bound airliner, according to reports in the French media.

French detectives confirmed the existence of the message after raiding an internet cafe in Paris and examining computer hard discs there, the Marseille-based daily La Provence and the French news agency AFP both reported.

Mr Reid pleaded not guilty when he was formally charged by a US court on Friday with attempting to blow up the aircraft.

French detectives began investigating Mr Reid's activities in Paris in the five days before the flight after a tip-off about his alleged communications from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to unnamed sources quoted by La Provence, Mr Reid sent an e-mail to several recipients in which he announced his plan to bomb the Roissy to Miami flight and die as a "martyr in the cause of Islam".

He added that his claim for carrying out the attack should not be published in the event of his failure.

AFP quoted an unnamed official "close to the investigation" as saying Mr Reid's contacts extended all around Europe.

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

He was restrained by other passengers when he allegedly tried to ignite the explosives in his shoes.

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

'Al-Qaeda connection'

Tamar Birckhead, one of Mr Reid's court-appointed attorneys, stressed that the indictment did not accuse Mr Reid of acting for a terrorist group.

"We note that the indictment does not allege that any of the crimes charged were committed on behalf of or to further the cause of al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organisation. We are aware of no basis for such an allegation," Ms Birckhead said.

Michael J Sullivan, US attorney for Massachusetts, said Mr Reid would be prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law".

US prosecutors believe he carried out scouting missions for the al-Qaeda network, identifying targets in the Middle East.

They also believe he may have been an associate of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man so far indicted in connection with the 11 September attacks, that killed some 3,000 people in the US.

The two men worshipped at the same mosque in south London.

Copyright © BBC News.


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