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Richard Reid Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of Richard Reid, also known as the “shoe bomber” because of his attempt to detonate explosives hidden in his sneakers while on an American Airlines flight. He is serving a life sentence at the US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum facility in Florence, Colorado. Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted September 11 conspirator, is also incarcerated there.


Birth date: August 12, 1973

Birth place: England

Birth name: Richard Colvin Reid

Other Facts

Prosecutors believe Reid received training in Afghanistan from al Qaeda.

Investigators believe Reid had accomplices, but Reid claims to have acted alone.


1992-1996 Reid is in and out of British prisons for petty crimes. He converts to Islam while in prison.

1998-1999 Attends the same London mosque as Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted September 11 conspirator.

November 2001 Travels to Pakistan.

December 5, 2001 Travels to Brussels, Belgium. While there, Reid tells Belgian authorities he’s lost his British passport and is issued a new one by the British Embassy.

December 16, 2001 Travels to Paris.

December 17, 2001 – Buys a round-trip ticket from Paris to Miami to Antigua.

December 21, 2001 – Is questioned by airport officials after a security agent becomes suspicious because Reid had paid for his ticket with cash and is traveling without checking luggage. By the time Reid is cleared to board his flight, the plane has already left Paris.

December 22, 2001 Boards American Airlines Flight 63, Paris to Miami. During the flight, Reid tries to use a match to light explosives hidden in his shoes. Passengers and crew restrain him. The flight diverts to Boston. Reid is arrested.

January 16, 2002 – Is indicted on nine counts, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder of passengers on an aircraft, and attempted homicide of US nationals overseas.

January 18, 2002 – Pleads not guilty to eight charges. His attorney asks the court to dismiss the ninth count, attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle, which is dismissed.

October 4, 2002 – Pleads guilty to the eight counts against him.

January 30, 2003 Is sentenced to life in prison and fined $2 million.

October 4, 2004 – Saajid Mohammed Badat, of the United Kingdom, is charged with conspiring with and aiding Reid. The British indictment alleges that Badat and Reid obtained custom-made shoe bombs in Afghanistan to be used to attack US interests.

February 28, 2005 Badat pleads guilty to conspiring with Reid to blow up a US aircraft.

April 22, 2005 Badat is sentenced to 13 years in prison. There is evidence that he had withdrawn from the plot.

2007 Reid files a lawsuit against the government saying the special administrative measures (SAMs) applied to him in prison violate his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of religion. The restrictions limit his access to news and correspondence and prohibit him from praying with other prisoners.

June 2009 The US Justice Department relaxes the SAMs being applied to Reid. He continues with his lawsuit, claiming his First Amendment rights are still being violated.

2010 Reid’s lawsuit about the SAMs being applied to him in prison is dismissed.

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