BOSTON – Accused shoe-bomber Richard Reid, heavily shackled and wearing a bright orange prison jumpsuit, pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that he is an Al Qaeda-trained terrorist who tried to blow up everyone aboard a trans-Atlantic airliner last month.
The British-born Reid was charged in a nine-count, 12-page indictment Wednesday with trying to ignite plastic explosives in his sneakers on Dec. 22 while aboard American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami.
Reid, 28, answered "Not guilty" to the first eight charges, including attempting to murder the 197 passengers and crew members. For technical reasons, the defense had U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Dein enter an innocent plea on the ninth charge, attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle.
Public defender Tamar Birckhead said there may be a "defect" with that charge — which was created by Congress in the anti-terrorism bill passed after September 11.
"To allege that a 767 airplane is a vehicle, let alone is a vehicle used in urban mass transportation, is a stretch," Birckhead said.
Reid was subdued by flight attendants and passengers on the Paris-to-Miami flight after he allegedly tried to light a fuse protruding from his sneakers.
Authorities said each sneaker contained a plastic explosive often used by terrorists. They said the homemade bombs could easily have ripped a hole in the plane if Reid had successfully ignited them.
On Wednesday, Reid was formally accused of:
• attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction;
• attempted murder;
• attempted homicide;
• placing an explosive device on an aircraft;
• two charges of interfering with a flight crew;
• attempted destruction of an aircraft;
• using a destructive device during a crime of violence;
• attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle.
The indictment said Reid "received training from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan," but it provided no other details about Reid's alleged ties to the network.
Reid's attorney, Tamar Birckhead, has said the indictment does not indicate that Reid worked on behalf of Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network or any other terrorist network.
Reid has been held without bail since his arrest Dec. 22 on the lesser charge of interfering with a flight crew.
The case is being prosecuted in Boston because the plane was diverted to the city's Logan International Airport. He could get five life sentences if convicted.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said in Washington on Wednesday that the charges "alert us to a clear, unmistakable threat that Al Qaeda could attack the United States again."
A U.S. official said Reid may be an Al Qaeda target scout, and an Israeli official said it was possible Reid was gathering intelligence for large-scale terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv and other cities. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.
Reid converted to Islam while in prison for petty crimes. He later worshipped at the same London mosque as Zacarias Moussaoui, charged with conspiracy in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In an interview with Britain's Channel 4 News on Thursday, Reid's father, Robin Reid of London, said he could not believe his son is an international terrorist.
"He'd been brainwashed," he said. "I think I know my son well enough to know that he wouldn't have, he couldn't have, thought of doing this on his own."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.