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Bombs are Weapons of Mass Distruction

The Shoe Bomber

Airports X-Ray Shoes because of Richard Reid


Posted Tuesday October 3rd 2023

FBI Shoe Bomber
Shoe Bomber
Richard Reid

On December 22, 2001, just months after the 9/11 attacks, Richard Reid boarded American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami. He had homemade bombs hidden in his shoes which he intended to detonate mid-flight, blowing up the plane. However, he struggled to light the fuse and drew the attention of other passengers and crew members who saw the wires in his shoes.

After a struggle, they poured water on him and tied him to his seat with belts, and doctors on board administered a tranquilizer.

On October 4, 2002, Reid pleaded guilty to eight terrorism-related charges, and the judge sentenced him to life in federal prison.

Most airline passengers still have to x-ray their shoes at the airport, measures that were put in place after Reid's arrest.

FBI Richard Reid Shoes
  • Homemade Shoe Bomb
    FBI bomb techs determined the shoes contained about 10 oz of explosive material with the highly unstable triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, as the trigger. During a preliminary hearing, an FBI agent testified the homemade bomb would have blown a hole in the plane's fuselage and caused the plane to crash if it had detonated.
  • Belts Used to Subdue Shoe Bomber Richard Reid
    Crew members and passengers on Flight 63, vigilant after the events of 9/11, noticed Reid trying to detonate his shoes inflight. They subdued and restrained him using belts until the pilots could make an emergency landing in Boston escorted by USAF fighter jets.
  • Richard Reid's American Airlines Flight 63 Boarding Pass
    Reid purchased this ticket in Paris with cash and traveled without checking any luggage.

Richard Reid

WIKIPEDIARichard Colvin Reid
Born 12 August 1973
AKA the "Shoe Bomber", is the perpetrator of the failed shoe bombing attempt on a transatlantic flight in 2001. Born to a father who was a career criminal, Reid converted to Islam as a young man in prison after years as a petty criminal. Later he became radicalized and went to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he trained and became a member of al-Qaeda.

On 22 December 2001, Reid boarded American Airlines Flight 63 between Paris and Miami, wearing shoes packed with explosives, which he unsuccessfully tried to detonate. Passengers subdued him on the plane, which landed at Logan International Airport in Boston, the closest US airport.

He was arrested, charged, and indicted. In 2002, Reid pleaded guilty in US federal court to eight federal criminal counts of terrorism, based on his attempt to destroy a commercial aircraft in flight. He was sentenced to three life terms plus 110 years in prison without parole and was transferred to ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison in Colorado.

The Bombing Attempt
On 22 December 2001, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami complained of the smell of smoke in the cabin shortly after a meal service. One flight attendant, Hermis Moutardier, thinking she smelled a burnt match, walked along the aisles of the plane, trying to find the source. She found Reid, who was sitting alone near a window, attempting to light a match. Moutardier warned him that smoking was not allowed onboard the aircraft. Reid promised to stop.

A few minutes later, Moutardier found Reid leaned over in his seat. After she asked him what he was doing, Reid grabbed her, revealing one shoe in his lap, a fuse leading into the shoe, and a lit match. Several passengers worked together to subdue the 6 foot 4 inch (193 cm) tall Reid who weighed 215 pounds (97 kg). They restrained him using plastic handcuffs, seatbelt extensions, leather waist belts and headphone cords. An off-duty doctor on board administered a tranquilizer to him, which he found in the emergency medical kit of the airliner. The flight was immediately diverted to Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, the closest airport in the United States.

The explosive apparently did not detonate due to the delay in the departure of Reid's flight. The rainy weather, along with Reid's foot's perspiration, made the fuse too damp to ignite.

Shoe BomberChanges in Airline Security Procedures
As a result of these events, some airlines encouraged passengers departing from an airport in the United States to pass through airport security in socks or bare feet while their shoes are scanned for bombs. In 2006, the TSA started requiring all passengers to remove their shoes for screening. Scanners do not find PETN in shoes or strapped to a person. A chemical test is needed. However, even if the X-ray scanners cannot detect all explosives, it is an effective way to see if the shoe has been altered to hold a bomb.

In 2011, the rules were relaxed to allow children 12 and younger and adults 75 and older to keep their shoes on during security screenings.

Other Wikipedia Citings