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Reid pleads guilty to shoe-bomb try

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Reid pleads guilty to shoe-bomb try

Judge refuses request to remove references to al-Qaida from indictment

MSNBC NEWS SERVICES

BOSTON, Oct. 4 — Richard Reid pleaded guilty Friday to eight charges stemming from his attempt in December to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with explosive in his shoes. Reid entered the plea in Boston after declaring himself to be a follower of Osama bin Laden. He said he did not recognize the American justice system — but agreed that he did commit the acts outlined in the indictment.

IN COURT Friday, U.S. District Judge William Young asked Reid: “Did you intend to blow that plane up and kill the people on that plane and yourself?”

Reid replied, “Yeah” and smirked.

When asked by the judge why he pleaded guilty, he said: “Because I know what I’ve done. ... At the end of the day I know that I done the actions.”

Reid pleaded guilty to eight charges: attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction; attempted homicide; placing an explosive device on an aircraft; attempted murder; two counts of interference with flight crew and attendants; attempted destruction of an aircraft; and using a destructive device during a crime of violence.

A ninth charge, attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle, a charge filed under the new USA Patriot Act, was tossed out by the judge in June.

‘I’m a follower of Osama bin Laden. I’m an enemy of your country, and I don’t care.’

— RICHARD REID

Responding to judge's refusal to strike references to al-Qaida from the indictment Reid also was asked if he agreed with the government’s description of what happened on the Paris-to-Miami flight, which was diverted to Boston after Reid was subdued by passengers and flight crew.

“Basically, I got on the plane with a bomb. Basically, I tried to ignite it. Basically, yeah, intended to damage the plane,” Reid said laughing.

Lawyers for Reid had shocked prosecutors Wednesday by announcing that he would change his plea to guilty from not guilty, a move that averts a trial due to have started next month.

But Reid’s lawyers also said their client wanted the court to throw out allegations that he received training from al-Qaida, the terrorist network blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, which killed about 3,000 people.

But federal prosecutors said in a court filing Thursday that references to al-Qaida must remain in the indictment against Reid, 29, charged with trying to blow up a Paris-to-Miami flight last year.

In the seven-page filing Thursday, prosecutors said they could prove that Reid, a British citizen, received training at al-Qaida camps and that the training was key to his attempt Dec. 22 to bring down American Airlines Flight 63.

“The court should know that the al Qaeda trained allegations...are supported by witness statements of individuals with personal knowledge of Reid’s presence at al Qaeda training camps, as well as corroborating circumstantial evidence to that effect,” prosecutors said in the filing.

When the judge refused the request by Reid to strike the al-Qaida references, Reid responded: “I don’t care. ... I’m a follower of Osama bin Laden. I’m an enemy of your country, and I don’t care.”

He was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 8.

DEFENSE FOCUSES ON REFERENCES

Defense lawyers tried unsuccessfully earlier this year to persuade Young to strip al-Qaida references from the indictment, arguing that such accusations would unfairly prejudice jurors at Reid’s trial.

When he denied their request in July, Young said it was a matter to be taken up at the time of trial.

Prosecutors urged Young not to grant Reid’s request this time, saying his offer to plead guilty removed concerns about unfair prejudice.

Moreover, they said, the allegations of al-Qaida training were relevant to two of the charges against him: attempted homicide and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

“Here, Reid’s prior al Qaeda training is relevant to knowledge, motive, intent, planning and premeditation,” prosecutors said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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