Man pleads guilty to taking shoe bomb onboard airplane
BOSTON -- Richard Reid pleaded guilty with a laugh Friday to trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with explosives hidden in his shoes, and he declared his hatred for America and his loyalty to Osama bin Laden.
"Basically I got on the plane with a bomb," Reid said, alternately defiant and flippant. "Basically I tried to ignite it. Basically, yeah, I intended to damage the plane."
Prosecutors said they would ask for a sentence of 60 years to life in prison, according to federal guidelines.
Reid, 29, a British citizen who converted to Islam, was accused of trying to murder the 197 people aboard a Paris-to-Miami American Airlines flight Dec. 22. He was overpowered and tied to his seat by passengers after a flight attendant saw him trying to light a fuse sticking out of his hiking shoes. The flight was diverted to Boston.
When U.S. District Judge William Young asked him why he pleaded guilty, Reid replied: "Because at the end of the day I know that I done the actions."
Reid's smirks and laughter added a chilling note to his surprise decision earlier this week to plead guilty to all charges.
Told by the judge that prosecutors would detail his links to al-Qaida at his sentencing Jan. 8, Reid said: "I don't care. I'm a member of al-Qaida, I pledge to Osama bin Laden and I'm an enemy of your country, and I don't care."
He also said he does not recognize the American justice system.
U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan repeated that the government made no concessions to Reid in exchange for his plea.
Reid's lawyers had asked the judge to remove any mention of his alleged links to al-Qaida from the indictment, but Young refused.
The FBI believes Reid had help making the bomb from "an al-Qaida bomb maker," and authorities have said they found unidentified hair and a palm print on the explosives.
Charles Prouty, agent in charge of the FBI office in Boston, said investigators are trying to find out who helped Reid. "This is not the end of the investigation," Prouty said.
Before Reid entered his pleas, prosecutors outlined some of the evidence, reading excerpts from e-mails Reid wrote to his mother and a person identified as "brother" two days before the flight.
In one message, Reid described a dream in which he was waiting for a ride in a pickup, but when the truck arrived it was full and he could not go. He said it signified his sadness at not being chosen as one of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Reid pleaded guilty to eight charges in all, including attempted murder, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and attempted destruction of an aircraft.
Federal authorities had been preparing for a high-security trial, where Reid's alleged links to al-Qaida would be presented. But Reid stunned them when he said he wanted to plead guilty to avoid the publicity of a trial and the effect it would have on his family.
When the judge asked Reid if he had consulted with lawyers about his guilty plea and if he understood, Reid replied: "I don't recognize your system, so how can I be satisfied?"