FAA Orders Search of Shoes After 'Sneaker Bomber'

July 7, 2008 - 8:20 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The Federal Aviation Administration is warning all U.S. airports and airlines to carefully search passengers' shoes after a man allegedly tried to detonate explosives in his sneakers on board a Paris to Miami flight.

A man who U.S. officials identified as a 28-year-old British citizen named Richard C. Reid boarded an American Airlines flight in Paris that was later diverted to Boston's Logan International Airport Saturday after he threatened to detonate explosives in his high-top sneakers.

Passengers on board the plane said he had a "blank look" on his face and looked "almost possessed."

Reid reportedly tried to board a flight on the same route the day before, but was stopped by police and questioned about the validity of his passport. He missed his flight, so he boarded a plane the following day.

Two to three hours after he boarded the Saturday flight, passengers smelled something burning, and after flight attendants investigated the incident, four men pounced on the suspect and wrestled the burning materials from his hand.

Reid was subdued while passengers used belts to strap him into his seat and two doctors used drugs from the plane's medical kit to sedate him. He was charged in a federal criminal complaint with intimidation or assault of a flight crew causing interference with their duties.

French police, meanwhile, have identified him as a Sri Lankan named Tariq Raja, who changed his name to Abdel Rahim when he converted to Islam.

The Federal Aviation Administration Sunday ordered all U.S. airlines and airports to be more vigilant in detecting explosives in passengers' shoes. The FAA order follows a similar one issued Dec. 11 warning that hijackers may try to smuggle weapons in their footwear.