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Suspect's shoes held 'explosive devices'

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Preliminary analysis by the FBI shows the shoes worn by a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami Saturday contained "two functional improvised explosive devices," federal authorities said Sunday.

The U.S. attorney's office for Massachusetts announced Sunday in Boston that Richard C. Reid, 28, was charged with interfering with the performance of the duties of flight crew members by assault or intimidation.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, a flight attendant smelled what she thought was a burnt match about 90 minutes into Flight 63, which left Charles de Gaulle International Airport between 11 a.m. and noon, Paris time.

CNN's John Zarrella has more on the man that officials say had explosives in his shoe and was trying to ignite on an international flight (December 23)

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After she determined the smell came from Reid, who was seated in Row 29 in the coach section, she confronted him and saw him put a match into his mouth, U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said in a news release faxed to members of the media.

Flight attendant Hermis Moutardier then alerted the captain over the intercom. Upon returning to Reid, he lit another match and appeared to be trying to set fire to the inner tongue of his sneaker, Sullivan said.

When Moutardier noticed a wire protruding from the sneaker, she attempted to grab the shoe, Sullivan said. Reid, about 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing more than 200 pounds, pushed her into the bulkhead, he said.

After she made a second attempt to grab his shoe, Reid pushed her to the floor, at which point Moutardier yelled for help and ran for water, Sullivan said.

A second flight attendant, Cristina Jones, joined the struggle and was bitten on the thumb, according to an affidavit from FBI Special Agent Margaret Cronin.

At that point, several other passengers answered the calls for help and subdued Reid.

The in-air melee prompted the pilots of the Boeing 767 to divert the flight to Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts.

The jetliner, carrying 185 passengers and 12 crew members, was escorted by U.S. fighter jets and landed safely at 12:50 p.m. ET.

Additional tests were being conducted on Reid's sneakers, the FBI said.

"Obviously, the alleged intimidation or assault of a flight crew causing interference with their duties is, by itself, an exceptionally serious charge," Sullivan said.

"The willingness of the flight attendants and passengers to get involved with this incident helped avert a potentially dangerous situation," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles Prouty.

"This points to the importance of every citizen staying involved and alert to ensure public safety," Prouty said.

If convicted, Reid faces up to 20 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

He is scheduled to appear Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Dein at 9:30 a.m. in U.S. District Court in Boston.

On Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration warned airlines for the second time this month to be on the lookout for people trying to smuggle weapons or bomb-making components in their shoes. The first alert was issued December 11.

At Logan Airport Sunday, passengers were asked to remove their shoes to be screened.


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