FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
BRITISH NATIONAL INDICTED FOR CONSPIRING
WITH ‘SHOE BOMBER’ RICHARD REID
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan of the District of Massachusetts and FBI Assistant Director Gary Bald announced today that a British man has been charged with conspiring with and aiding and abetting convicted “shoe bomber” Richard Reid to detonate homemade bombs hidden in shoes on American aircraft in 2001.
A seven-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury Sept. 1, 2004 and unsealed today alleges that Saajid Mohammed Badat, 25, of the United Kingdom, conspired with and aided and abetted Reid and others to detonate shoe bombs in an attempt to destroy, disable or wreck American aircraft, including American Airlines Flight 63, the flight which Reid attempted to bomb.
The indictment alleges that Badat and co-conspirator Reid obtained shoe bombs to attack American interests, including American aircraft while in flight, and in so doing, to murder the passengers on board. It is alleged that Badat and Reid created numerous e-mail accounts to communicate and coordinate the conspiracy. According to the indictment, during the course of their conspiracy, Badat and Reid traveled to Pakistan and several European countries, including Belgium, where it is alleged that both Badat and Reid at separate times went to the British Embassy in Brussels, falsely claiming to have lost their passports. Each applied for and received new British passports. Reid used his new passport to board Flight 63.
On Dec. 22, 2001, American Airlines Flight 63, carrying a crew of 14 and a passenger complement of 184, including Reid, departed Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, bound for Miami, Florida. Approximately one and a half hours into the flight, a flight attendant smelled what she thought was a burnt match. After the flight attendant determined that it was coming from where Reid was seated, she confronted Reid, at which time he put a match into his mouth. The flight attendant alerted the captain over the intercom system. Reid went on to light another match in an apparent attempt to set fire to his shoe. The flight attendant then noticed a wire protruding from the shoe. A struggle ensued among several of the flight attendants, passengers and Reid. Ultimately Reid was subdued and restrained for the remainder of the flight. The flight was diverted for landing to Boston’s Logan International Airport, where Reid was taken into federal custody. Later analysis by the FBI laboratory in Washington determined that there were two functional improvised explosive devices hidden in Reid’s shoes made of the explosive material triacetone triperoxide, known as “TATP,” and other components.
Badat was arrested by British authorities in the United Kingdom on Nov. 27, 2003. Today’s indictment alleges that components of shoe bombs were found in Badat’s home at the time of his British arrest and that those components were found to be substantially similar to those in Reid’s shoe bombs.
The U.K. indictment brought July 30, 2004 against Badat alleges conspiracy to destroy, damage or endanger the safety of an aircraft; possession of explosive substances with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the United Kingdom or elsewhere; and unlawful possession of explosive devices. Badat has been in the custody of British authorities since his arrest.
“The U.S. indictment against Saajid Mohammed Badat alleges a conspiracy with Richard Reid that was designed to kill hundreds of Americans,” said Attorney General Ashcroft. “The alert passengers and crew of Flight 63 prevented Richard Reid from carrying out his deadly mission. The resulting investigation led us and our British colleagues to Badat. The Justice Department will continue doing everything in its power to prevent terrorists and their supporters from harming the citizens of the United States.”
“This prosecution demonstrates our resolve to identify and disrupt the terrorist threat on a global scale,” said Assistant Attorney General Wray. “Working together with our allies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, we will continue our push to win the war on terrorism on the battlefield and in the courts of law.”
“The President and Attorney General gave clear direction that there is no higher priority than protecting our nation against the threat of terrorism,” stated U.S. Attorney Sullivan. “In this case, investigators and prosecutors from around the world aligned their experience and resources to continue our relentless anti-terrorism campaign.”
Assistant Director Gary Bald, FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, said: “This case exemplifies and highlights our close working relationship with British law enforcement and intelligence agencies. These relationships are essential to our mutual success in the ongoing war on terrorism. I would also like to commend the work of the FBI’s Boston Field Office and Joint Terrorism Task Force as well as the FBI Laboratory. Their efforts were instrumental in bringing about today’s indictment.”
Specifically, the indictment unsealed in Boston today charges Badat with: conspiracy to destroy an aircraft; conspiracy to commit homicide; attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction; placing an explosive device on an aircraft; attempted murder; attempted destruction of an aircraft; and carrying a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence.
If convicted, Badat faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment on the charges of conspiracy to commit homicide and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He also faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of the counts charging conspiracy to destroy an aircraft, placing an explosive device on an aircraft, attempted murder and attempted destruction of an aircraft. Additionally, if convicted on count seven of carrying a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence, Badat faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison to be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment he receives.
Defendants named in indictments are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
Reid pleaded guilty in October 2002 to an eight-count indictment. Reid, who was trained by al Qaeda in Afghanistan, attempted to detonate the shoe bombs while a passenger on Flight 63. Chief U.S. District Judge William G. Young sentenced Reid in January 2003 to life imprisonment and a $2 million fine.
The investigation is continuing.
The case is being investigated in the United States by the Federal Bureau of Investigation through its Joint Terrorism Task Force and was assisted by the Massachusetts State Police and the Boston Police Department. It is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard T. Leone, Jr., Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Ricciuti, Chief of Sullivan’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit and Coordinator of the Massachusetts Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council for the District of Massachusetts, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly West and Brian J. Leske in Sullivan’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit; and Larry Cho, Michael Keegan and Ranganath Manthripragada of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.