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E-mail indicates shoe-bomb suspect had help

May 23, 2002 

The man suspected of trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with a bomb in his shoe told his mother that he had a duty as a Muslim to "help remove oppressive American forces," according to court documents released Thursday.

The documents also say Richard Reid "was not unassisted in his efforts to destroy Flight 63" and that he was ruled out as the source of a human hair and palm print found in the bombs.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said Monday that the FBI now believes "an al-Qaida bomb maker" constructed the shoe bomb.

The information was included in documents filed by prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Boston in response to a motion to lift restrictions on Reid's communications with his attorneys.

Reid, 28, a British citizen, is charged with attempting to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami on Dec. 22. Passengers and crew members restrained him after he allegedly tried to light a fuse protruding from his shoe. The flight was diverted to Boston.

In their memorandum, prosecutors wrote that Reid sent an e-mail to his mother on Dec. 20 saying, "What I am doing is part of the ongoing war between Islaam and disbelief, (and as such a duty upon me as a Muslim)."

According to the documents, Reid continued: "The reason for me sending you (a document he calls his "will") is so you can see that I didn't do this act out of ignorance nor did I just do it because I want to die, but rather because I see it as a duty upon me to help remove the oppressive American forces from the Muslim land and that this is the only way for us to do so as we do not have other means to fight them." The spelling and punctuation are consistent with the court documents.

Calls to Reid's lawyer Thursday were not immediately returned.

Prosecutors said that an examination of one of the explosive devices in Reid's shoes "disclosed evidence of a confederate (or confederates)."

Outside experts have long said that an expert had likely built the bombs that Reid was alleged to have tried to detonate on the flight.

In statements to law enforcement after his arrest, Reid said he acted because of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan and said he had hoped his planned attack would cause Americans to stop traveling, leading to a downturn in the economy, prosecutors said.

The disclosures came as prosecutors and Reid's defense continued to spar over how Reid is allowed to communicate to his lawyers and others involved in his defense.

In March, U.S. District Judge William Young lifted some of the restrictions on defense communications but ordered the defense to keep a tight lid on anything Reid tells them.

Reid's lawyers filed a motion May 3 seeking to lift limits on their ability to disclose information and the limited access to Reid by others involved in his defense.

In a 30-page response Thursday, prosecutors argued Reid "is a committed loyalist who attempted to commit mass murder as part of a terrorist campaign against this nation -- a campaign which deploys techniques of stealth and secrecy, including codes and hidden messages."

Prosecutors, who claim Reid was trained by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network, argued that lawyers could become the "inadvertent, unknowing and unwitting conduit" for those messages, which could endanger public safety.

Reid faces nine counts, including a charge of attempting to murder the 197 passengers and crew members on the flight.

The next hearing on his case is scheduled June 3.

by Associated Press. Copyright © The E.W. Scripps Co.

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