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Passengers Foil Potential Airliner Suicide Bomber - 2001-12-23


Passengers on a U.S.-bound flight from Paris, that was diverted to Boston after an apparent bombing attempt, finally arrived Sunday in Miami, the plane's original destination.

Appearing weary and shaken upon arrival in Miami, many passengers nonetheless said they were thankful to be alive. "We were very lucky," said one traveler. "The right people were in the right place at the right time."

One hundred eighty-five passengers and 12 crew members aboard American Airlines flight 63 from Paris survived what could have been a suicide bombing aboard the Boeing 767 aircraft. The incident began when a flight attendant noticed the smell of sulfur and challenged a male passenger who was allegedly using matches to try to light a wire protruding from his shoe.

The suspect reportedly bit the flight attendant on the hand. That is when other passengers took action, according to Leandro Bolanos.

"I heard the flight attendant screaming for help," he recalled. "I got up to see what was going on. Then some other guys came up and tried to take matches from [the suspect's] hand. They asked for belts, so I took my belt off and gave it to them," said Mr. Bolanos.

After a struggle, passengers and crew members managed to strap down the suspect. Two doctors administered sedatives from the planes medical kit.

The flight was diverted to Boston's Logan Airport, escorted by two F-15 fighter jets.

The suspect's identity and motives remain unclear. U.S. officials confirm he was carrying what appears to be a falsified British passport with the name "Richard Reid." So far, no link has been established between the suspect and Osama Bin Laden or the al-Qaida terrorist network.

U.S. officials say the shoe contained what appeared to be some form of improvised explosives and is being examined.

French officials say they are reviewing airport security measures in the wake of the incident.

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