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Security firm warned of shoe bomb suspect

Officials: Tests find plastic explosives in shoes



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A security firm at the Paris airport told French authorities on two different days that the shoe bomb suspect should be screened further, the president of the firm told CNN Tuesday.

Lior Zucker, president and CEO of the security firm ICTS, said his security officers recommended Friday and Saturday that French authorities take a closer look at the suspect now identified as Richard C. Reid, 28. ICTS does security screening for American Airlines in France and in other European countries.

Authorities suspect Reid of trying to use a match to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his sneakers during an American Airlines flight Saturday en route from Paris, France, to Miami, Florida.

He was subdued during a brief struggle with flight attendants and passengers, and the plane was safely diverted to Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts.

Reid was questioned by French authorities Friday after raising suspicions of a ICTS agent. Authorities eventually said Reid could board American Airlines Flight 63, but by then he had missed the flight.

When he returned Saturday to board the same flight, an ICTS security agent again recommended Reid should be checked further by French authorities, according to Zucker. Nevertheless, Reid was allowed on the plane, he said.

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Authorities in France are looking into how Richard Reid was able to board a plane with explosives in his shoes. CNN's Jim Bittermann reports (December 25)

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Some passengers of American Airlines Flight 63 recall their ordeal after their trans-Atlantic flight turned into front-page news (December 24)

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Zucker would not go into details about what led his agents to raise questions about Reid, who was traveling without checked baggage, had a recently issued passport and presented a scruffy image.

Reid's exact nationality is still being investigated by authorities in the United States and in Europe. Reid carried a British passport issued December 7 in Brussels, Belgium. Authorities believe the passport to be legitimate, but sources said Reid may have used several aliases.

Despite earlier reports that Reid carried a one-way ticket, Zucker said he believes he had a round trip ticket to Antigua. Reid told security personnel he was going to visit family in Antigua.

Zucker said Reid's hand baggage went through normal searches, but he would not say whether Reid was hand searched.

Few civilian uses for suspected explosive

U.S. law enforcement authorities said initial tests indicated Reid had PETN-based plastic explosives in his shoes, although they have not ruled out other compounds. The FBI laboratory in Washington is continuing the tests.

PETN is one of the compounds that makes up plastic explosives such as Semtex, the main ingredient in the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

PETN -- Pentaerythrite tetranitrate -- is a sophisticated explosive compound and not easily obtained, according to experts, and there are few civilian uses for it.

Officials said about 10 ounces of explosives were found in the shoes and would have done serious damage to the plane.

Reid was arrested in Boston on charges of interfering with a flight crew. At a brief hearing Monday, he did not enter a plea because he does not yet have an attorney.

U.S. Magistrate Judith Dein approved a request by U.S. attorneys that Reid remain in custody without bond until trial because of the dangerousness of the situation and his risk of flight. Dein scheduled an evidentiary hearing Friday.

If convicted, Reid would face up to 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. He is being held at a correctional facility in Plymouth, south of Boston.

As a result of Saturday's events, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a security directive Sunday ordering airlines to add random shoe inspections to the random baggage checks already carried out.

Government sources said Reid, who identified himself as a convert to Islam, has a British mother and a Jamaican father. New Scotland Yard and French authorities said he is a British citizen.

U.S. law enforcement authorities have found no connection between the man and any terrorist groups, sources said.

A French Ministry of Interior spokesman said Reid had adopted the name of Abdel Raheem after converting to Islam.

Although the man's passport identified him as Richard Colvin Reid, a French border police spokesman said the FBI identified him as Tariq Raja, born August 12, 1973, in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's foreign ministry issued a statement Monday saying that according to U.S. and French law enforcement officials the suspect is not a Sri Lankan national.



 
 
 
 


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