2001 shoe bomb attempt

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2001 shoe bomb attempt
Richard Reid's Shoes.jpg
Richard Reid's Shoes
LocationEn route to Miami, Florida, US from Paris, France
DateDecember 22, 2001 (2001-12-22)
TargetAmerican Airlines Flight 63
Attack type
Shoe bomb
AssailantRichard Reid

The 2001 shoe bomb attempt was a failed bombing attempt that occurred on December 22, 2001, on American Airlines Flight 63. The aircraft, a Boeing 767-300ER (registration N384AA) with 197 passengers and crew aboard, was flying from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France to Miami International Airport in the U.S. state of Florida.

The perpetrator, Richard Reid, was subdued by passengers after unsuccessfully attempting to detonate plastic explosives concealed within his shoes. The flight was diverted to Logan International Airport in Boston, escorted by American jet fighters, and landed without further incident. Reid was arrested and eventually sentenced to three life terms plus 110 years, without parole.


N384AA, the aircraft involved, 12 years after the incident

As Flight 63 was flying over the Atlantic Ocean, Richard Reid, an Islamic fundamentalist from the United Kingdom and self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda operative, carried shoes that were packed with two types of explosives. He had been refused permission to board the flight the day before.

Passengers on the flight complained of a smoky smell shortly after the meal service. One flight attendant, Hermis Moutardier, walked the aisles of the plane to locate the source. She found Reid sitting alone near a window, attempting to light a match. Moutardier warned him that smoking was not allowed onboard the aircraft, and Reid promised to stop.

A few minutes later, Moutardier found Reid leaning over in his seat, and unsuccessfully attempted to get his attention. After she asked him what he was doing, Reid grabbed at her, revealing one shoe in his lap, a fuse leading into the shoe, and a lit match. He was unable to detonate the bomb: perspiration from his feet dampened the triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and prevented it from igniting.

Moutardier tried grabbing Reid twice, but he pushed her to the floor each time, and she screamed for help. When another flight attendant, Cristina Jones, arrived to try to subdue Reid, he fought her and bit her thumb.

The 6-foot-4-inch (1.93 m) tall Reid, who weighed 215 pounds (97 kg), was subdued by other passengers and immobilised using plastic handcuffs, seatbelt extensions, and headphone cords. A doctor administered diazepam found in the flight kit of the aircraft.[1] Many of the passengers only became aware of the situation when the pilot announced that the flight was to be diverted to Logan International Airport in Boston.

Two F-15 fighter jets escorted Flight 63 to Logan Airport. The plane parked in the middle of the runway, and Reid was arrested on the ground while the rest of the passengers were bussed to the main terminal. Authorities later found over 280 grams (10 oz) of TATP and PETN hidden in the hollowed soles of Reid's shoes,[2] enough to blow a substantial hole in the aircraft.[3] He pleaded guilty, was convicted, sentenced to three life terms plus 110 years without parole and incarcerated at Supermax prison ADX Florence.


Six months after the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Queens, New York on November 12, 2001, Mohammed Mansour Jabarah agreed to cooperate with American authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence. He said that fellow Canadian Abderraouf Jdey had been responsible for the flight's destruction, using a shoe bomb similar to that found on Reid several months earlier. However, it was revealed during the crash investigation that pilot error, not terrorism, brought down the plane. Jabarah was a known colleague of Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, and said that Reid and Jdey had both been enlisted by the al-Qaeda chief to participate in identical plots.[4][5]

In 2006, security procedures at American airports were changed in response to this incident, with passengers required to remove their shoes before proceeding through scanners.[6] The requirement was phased out for some travelers, particularly those with TSA PreCheck, in 2011.[7] Also in 2011, the rules were relaxed to allow children 12 and younger and adults 75 and older to keep their shoes on during security screenings.[8]

Flight Number 63 continues to be used on the route from Paris to Miami, although the route now operates with a Boeing 777, as American Airlines has retired the 767.[9] N384AA was converted to a cargo aircraft in 2019 following its retirement and now operates for Amerijet International, reregistered as N349CM.[10][11]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thomas, Cathy Booth (September 1, 2002). "Courage in the Air". TIME. Archived from the original on June 4, 2010. Retrieved December 28, 2009.
  2. ^ "Shoe bomb suspect to remain in custody". CNN. December 25, 2001. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  3. ^ Sample, Ian (December 27, 2009). "PETN – hard to detect and just 100g can destroy a car". The Guardian. Archived from the original on September 8, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  4. ^ Mili, Hayder (July 28, 2005). "Securing the Northern Front: Canada and the War on Terror" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 November 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  5. ^ Ressa, Maria (December 6, 2003). "Sources:Reid is al Qaeda operative". CNN.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2006.
  6. ^ "TSA: TSA Travel Assistant". Tsa.gov. September 26, 2006. Archived from the original on May 11, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  7. ^ O'Keefe, Ed; Halsey III, Ashley (September 6, 2011). "Shoe removal requirement at airports to be phased out". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  8. ^ Hilkevitch, Jon. "TSA: Children pose little risk, can keep shoes on during security check". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  9. ^ "American Airlines (AA) #63 ✈ FlightAware". FlightAware. Archived from the original on 2016-05-08. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
  10. ^ "N349CM Amerijet International Boeing 767-300(F)". Planespotters. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  11. ^ "N384AA (1993 BOEING 767-323 owned by CARGO AIRCRAFT MANAGEMENT INC. -- FlightRadar24". FlightRadar24. Retrieved 2020-10-22.

Coordinates: 42°21′29″N 70°59′49″W / 42.358°N 70.997°W / 42.358; -70.997