On December 22, 2001, three months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Richard Reid, 28, a British citizen and Al Qaeda member, attempts to detonate homemade bombs hidden in his shoes while aboard American Airlines Flight 63 headed to Miami from Paris.
During the flight that included 197 passengers and crew members, Reid—who came to be known as the “shoe bomber"—used matches in an attempt to light his black hightops on fire while in his window seat. Smelling sulfur, a flight attendant saw what he was doing and fellow crew members and passengers were able to restrain him. He was sedated and strapped down with belts, and the plane was diverted to Boston’s Logan International Airport, where he was taken into custody.
Two flight attendants suffered minor injuries, but no one on board was seriously hurt. During a hearing, the FBI reported the bomb, which included approximately 10 ounces of explosives, would have caused the plane to crash had Reid been successful.
Investigators said Reid, who had previously served jail time for petty thefts, had converted to Islam and trained at Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. It was also reported that an attempt to board a plane to Miami the day before his arrest failed after he was questioned extensively by authorities.
Reid pled guilty to eight charges and was sentenced to life in prison on January 31, 2003. He was fined $2 million. The incident resulted in an ongoing TSA protocol requiring passengers to remove their shoes for screening while passing through airport security.
''I am at war with your country,'' Reid told the judge at the sentencing. ''I further admit my allegiance to Sheik Osama bin Laden, to Islam and to the religion of Allah.''