U.S. authorities retrace British bomber's travels

Associated Press/Laura Rauch

Members of the band Creed received the award for rock artist of the year during the Billboard Music Awards on Dec. 5, 2000, in Las Vegas. By John Solomon ~ The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Aided by intelligence from foreign police, U.S. authorities are reconstructing Richard Reid's recent travels across Europe and the Mideast looking for any ties to terrorist groups, government officials said Thursday.

Initial testing on the material found in Reid's shoes also indicated the presence of PETN, a material used to make the explosive Semtex that was detonated by Libyan terrorists to down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in the late 1980s, the officials said.

The tests also indicated there was no metal in the shoes, and that the bomb may have been foiled in part because the nonmetal fuse picked up enough moisture to make it difficult to ignite, the officials said, speaking only on condition of anonymity.

U.S. officials cautioned they haven't drawn any conclusions yet about whether Reid was acting alone or was part of an organized terrorist group when he allegedly tried to detonate explosives hidden in his shoes on an international flight last week.

Reid is scheduled to appear in court Friday in Boston.

Federal investigators are carefully retracing Reid's movements in the last six months, reviewing reports and records from foreign police and intelligence suggesting he traveled or spent money in Israel, Egypt, the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Shoes from Amsterdam

Among those travels, a few stops have drawn increased scrutiny, the officials said.

FBI agents are exploring whether Reid purchased any explosive materials or shoes during a recent stop in Amsterdam, and whether he was stopped by security officials suspicious about his shoes before he boarded a plane in Israel earlier this summer, the officials said.

The Dutch secret service said Thursday it was investigating reports that Reid was in the Netherlands in December, allegedly to purchase the shoes.

An Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were indications Reid visited Israel several months ago.

Across the world in Afghanistan, U.S. officials are attempting to corroborate claims from some low-level al-Qaida prisoners that Reid trained with them at Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan.

Reid's mother in England, Lesley Hughes, released a statement through a law firm Thursday saying "she has no knowledge of this matter" other than what she has learned from the news media.

"As any mother would be, she is deeply shocked and concerned about the allegations made against her son, but has no further comment to make," the statement said.