'Man with shoe bomb worked for bin Laden'

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The Independent US

Richard Reid, the Briton alleged to be the "shoe bomber", was an al-Qa'ida courier, investigators believe. They say the network's members helped make the device with which Mr Reid allegedly tried to destroy a passenger jet.

Although they lack hard evidence, investigators from a number of countries believe Mr Reid was not acting alone when he tried to detonate the device strapped to his leg as he flew between Paris and Miami on an American Airlines flight on 22 December.

Mr Reid's movements and the fact that he was able to pay cash for flights and hotels although he had no job suggest he was part of a network, officials believe. "I do not believe Reid was acting alone," said Yoram Schweitzer, a researcher with Israel's Institute of Counter-Terrorism. "He had connections, and the way he acted indicated that he was from a cell affiliated with al-Qa'ida."

Earlier this week, Jean-Louis Bruguière, the investigating magistrate in charge of all anti-terrorist activities in France, travelled to Brussels with a senior anti-terrorist police officer to investigate Mr Reid's stay there from 5 to 15 December. Agents from Israel's internal security service, Shin Bet, have been trying to piece together the five days in July during which Mr Reid, 28, was in Israel and the Gaza Strip, arriving from the Netherlands and departing to Egypt.

Some Israeli security experts believe Mr Reid, who is from south London, was given help by Palestinian guerrillas.

Investigators are also looking at links between Mr Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "20th hijacker" and the only person charged in relation to the events of 11 September. Mr Reid and Mr Moussaoui attended the same mosque in Brixton and there are reports that MI5 intercepted calls between the two men. The two men are also said to have attended an al-Qa'ida training camp in Afghanistan.

One French investigator told The New York Times that Mr Reid could have learnt his bomb-making skills there. "There are thousands of young men out there now who can make the same thing," the official said.

So far, Mr Reid has been charged only with intimidating or assaulting flight crew on the plane. His lawyer has denied he has terrorist links.

* A British judge said yesterday that he would consider bailing Lotfi Raissi, an Algerian pilot accused of involvement in the 11 September atrocities, unless the United States brought terrorism charges.

Almost four months have passed since Mr Raissi's arrest, but he has been charged only with making a false statement.

At Belmarsh magistrates' court, District Judge Timothy Workman said he expected the United States either to lay terrorism charges against Raissi, or proceed with the current holding charge.

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