(AP) - Preliminary FBI tests found explosives in the sneakers that a
passenger tried to ignite aboard a Boeing 767 jetliner, and the man was
charged Sunday with the federal crime of assaulting a flight crew.
His identity remained unclear. He was listed in court papers Sunday as
Richard C. Reid, the name on his British passport. French authorities
identified him as a Sri Lankan named Tariq Raja. In London, Scotland Yard
said they believed the suspect was a British national.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday ordered airlines and
airports to guard against passengers boarding planes with explosives
hidden in their shoes. Technology that detects traces of explosives on
carry-on baggage can also be used to check passengers' shoes.
Reid, 28, was charged Sunday in a federal criminal complaint with
intimidation or assault of a flight crew causing interference with their
duties. He faces a maximum 20 years in prison if convicted.
An initial court appearance was set Monday morning, the FBI said. Reid
was being held under constant watch Sunday in a jail in Plymouth,
according to Mike Seele, spokesman for the Plymouth County Sheriff's
Officials at the British consulate in Boston have arranged to meet with
Reid before Monday's hearing, a consulate spokeswoman said.
French police opened an investigation Sunday to determine how Reid
eluded increased security measures at Charles de Gaulle airport outside
Paris, where American Airlines Flight 63 took off Saturday.
Passengers on the flight said they had noticed the tall, pony-tailed
man standing alone and stone-faced before boarding.
"He had a blank look," Nicholas Green, a 27-year-old French
trader, said. "The people who had seen him, remembered him."
During the flight, the suspect, who was sitting behind the wing in the
coach section of the Boeing 767, lit a match, but put it in his mouth when
confronted by flight attendant Hermis Moutardier, according to an FBI
She told the captain and returned to see Reid with a match held to the
tongue of his sneaker, then noticed a wire protruding from the shoe. She
tried to grab the sneaker, but Reid allegedly pushed her to the floor, and
she screamed for help.
Another flight attendant, Cristina Jones, intervened and the 6-foot-4
Reid bit her, authorities said.
"He bit Ms. Jones on the thumb and Ms. Moutardier threw water in
his face," FBI agent Margaret G. Cronin said in the statement.
Passengers subdued the man, some taking off their belts to strap him
into his seat, officials said. Two doctors used drugs from the airplane's
medical kit to sedate him.
The plane, carrying 183 passengers and 14 crew members, was escorted to
Logan International Airport by two F-15 fighter jets.
Since Sept. 11, some pilots have urged passengers to attack anyone who
tries to interfere with the operation of a plane. On Oct. 8, Edward
Coburn, 31, was subdued by passengers after he tried to storm the cockpit
of an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles.
Passengers on one of the airliners hijacked on Sept. 11 are believed to
have fought their hijackers and caused the aircraft to crash in
Pennsylvania instead of into an apparent Washington target.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Boston said Sunday that preliminary FBI
tests showed "two functional improvised explosive devices" in
the man's shoes, described by a passenger as hightop sneakers.
"There will be further tests to determine exactly what he
had," said a federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition
Logan officials described the substance as consistent with the military
plastic explosive C-4.
In Washington, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, senior Republican on the
Senate Intelligence Committee, said the FBI told him in a briefing Sunday
there were explosives in the suspect's shoes.
"This is taken very, very seriously," Shelby said on CBS-TV's
"Face the Nation." "From what I've observed, this man was
trying to blow himself up, blow the plane up. Is this part of a widespread
deal or is this guy acting alone? We don't know yet."
Sunday's FAA directive followed a similar warning to airlines on Dec.
11 that potential hijackers might try to smuggle weapons in their shoes.
Officials wouldn't say what intelligence prompted the warning.
French authorities said Reid had tried to board the same flight Friday
but was turned away after raising suspicions.
French police said the suspect - who also has gone by a third name,
Abdel Rahim - was given permission to board after intensive questioning,
but by then had missed Friday's flight. He had only one small bag with him
and said he was traveling to Antigua to visit relatives, police said.
After Reid was taken into custody at Logan, the other passengers spent
10 hours being searched and questioned. Most later boarded another plane
to Miami, which landed early Sunday.
"Some thought this was a terrorist attack," said Geoffrey
Bessin, a New York-born software designer who lives in France. "A lot
of others thought it was taken care of, and nothing bad happened, so let's
go back to our movie."
Logan was the airport where two planes departed Sept. 11 before they
were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.
In the aftermath of the attacks, acting Gov. Jane Swift fired airport
security chief Joseph Lawless. Later, Virginia Buckingham resigned as
executive director of Massport, which runs Logan, amid promises by state
officials to improve security.
Associated Press reporters John Solomon in Washington and Pamela
Sampson in Paris contributed to this report.