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Shoe Bomb Suspect Faces Life in Prison if Convicted - 2002-01-16

The suspected terrorist who passengers say tried to ignite a bomb in his shoes during a Trans-Atlantic flight has been indicted on nine criminal charges including attempted murder.

The indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Boston, Massachusetts, charges British-born Richard Reid with attempted murder and with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. The indictment also alleges that he received al-Qaida terrorist training in Afghanistan.

Mr. Reid is accused of attempting to detonate explosives contained in his shoes during an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami on December 22. The suspect was subdued by flight attendants and passengers and the plane was diverted to Boston.

Richard Reid was previously charged with interfering with a flight crew. The announcement of the criminal indictment containing the additional charges came from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft at a Washington news conference. "The lessons for Americans are undeniable. We must be prepared. We must be alert," he said. "We must be vigilant. Al-Qaida-trained terrorists may act on their own or as part of the terrorist network. But we must assume that they will act."

The previous charge against Mr. Reid carried a 20-year jail sentence upon conviction. If convicted of the additional charges filed Wednesday, Richard Reid could face life in prison.

Attorney General Ashcroft praised the passengers and crew of American Airlines flight 63 who overpowered the suspect after he allegedly attempted to ignite wires in his shoes.

FBI Director Robert Mueller says the domestic war on terrorism will require continued public vigilance. "An observant and responsible public is as much a partner to effective law enforcement as any other activity we in law enforcement undertake," he said.

Richard Reid is being held in a jail south of Boston. He is being held without bail because he is considered dangerous and likely to flee if released.