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Shoe Bomb Suspect Denies Guilt - 2002-01-18

The man who allegedly tried to blow up an airliner with explosives in his shoes pleaded not guilty to criminal charges Friday.

Richard Reid appeared in a federal court in Boston, and softly responded, "not guilty" when asked to enter a plea to nine criminal charges including attempted murder.

The suspect was overpowered by flight attendants and passengers aboard a Transatlantic flight on December 22, after he allegedly tried to ignite explosives in his shoes. The Paris-to-Miami flight, with 197 passengers and crew members aboard, was diverted to Boston, escorted by two U.S. Air Force fighter jets.

Richard Reid was initially charged with interfering with a flight crew. But on Wednesday, he was indicted on additional charges, including attempted murder, attempted destruction of an aircraft and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

In announcing the indictment Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters that federal investigators believe that Richard Reid underwent al-Qaida terrorist training in Afghanistan. "If convicted of these crimes, Reid faces five life sentences," Mr. Ashcroft said. "Reid's indictment alerts us to a clear, unmistakable threat that al-Qaida could attack the United States again."

Since his arrest last month, Richard Reid has been held without bail in a jail south of Boston.