Boston, Jan. 31 (Reuters): Richard Reid, a British-born follower of Osama bin Laden, was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with explosives stuffed in his shoes.
A defiant Reid, who pleaded guilty in October to all charges stemming from his failed attempt in December 2001, told chief US district judge William Young that he was a soldier “at war” with the US because it sponsored the “rape and torture” of Muslims.
“You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature,” Young told Reid.
The Briton gestured menacingly and shouted at Young after the judge handed him the maximum jail sentence, fined him $2 million and issued a stern rebuke of his actions.
“Stand him down,” Young ordered federal marshals as they dragged the towering shoe-bomber from the courtroom.
Pointing at Young and the American flag hanging in the courtroom, Reid replied: “That flag will be brought down on the day of judgment and you will see in front of your Lord and my Lord and then we will know.”
The exchange capped a tense sentencing hearing during which three crew members from American Airlines told of the psychological scars they still bear from Reid’s bid to bring down their aircraft as it flew from Paris to Miami on December 22, 2001. Passengers and crew overpowered the British citizen as he tried to ignite explosives in his athletic shoes.