The leader of a London mosque links Richard Reid to a Frenchman charged with conspiracy in Sept. 11 attacks.
The man who allegedly tried to blow up a transatlantic flight with explosives hidden in his shoes was a convert to Islam who attended the same south London mosque as an accused conspirator in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the mosque's leader said Wednesday.
Abdul Haqq Baker, chairman of the Brixton Mosque, said suspect Richard Reid converted to Islam while serving a jail sentence, and approached the mosque asking to learn the tenets of the religion.
"He was someone out of prison who wanted to learn," Mr. Baker said. "There was no indication ... he was linked with terrorist organizations."
During an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami on Dec. 22, Mr. Reid allegedly tried to light a fuse protruding from his shoe. Flight attendants and passengers used belts to restrain him, and two doctors sedated him. The Boeing 767, carrying 197 people, was diverted to Boston with an escort of two fighter jets.
Baker said that for part of 1998, Reid attended the mosque at the same time as Zacarias Moussaoui, a Frenchman charged with conspiracy in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. He said it was possible the two men had met.
Investigators are still attempting to confirm the suspect's identity. Richard Reid is the name listed on a British passport issued Dec. 7 by the British Embassy in Belgium, and London's Times newspaper and a French police official both have identified Reid as a British petty criminal with an English mother and a Jamaican father.