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Archive for Saturday, June 15, 2002

Three suspects with possible links to shoe bomber placed under investigation

June 15, 2002

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— Three suspects arrested during a roundup of people with possible links to alleged shoe bomber Richard C. Reid were placed under investigation Saturday by a French anti-terrorism judge, judicial officials said.

The suspects, a Pakistani and two French men, were under investigation - one step short of being charged - for "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise," the officials said, speaking on condition their names not be used.

Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere has been looking into Reid's stay in Paris, searching for contacts he had in France before boarding a Paris-Miami flight in December with explosives stuffed in his shoes.

Though police believe Reid had logistical support in the French capital, they have so far been unable to track down solid evidence. Investigators suspect he was lodged by other people with sympathies to radical Islam.

Days earlier, Bruguiere had ordered the arrests of six people suspected of having met Reid in the Paris region. Three were released, while three were placed under investigation. Officials did not provide their identities.

It was not immediately clear what the suspects' connection to Reid might be, the officials said.

However, the officials said the three men were suspected members of a radical Islamic group with links to the al-Qaida terrorist network. Two of them are suspected to have spent time at a terrorist training camp in Pakistani Kashmir, while the third is believed to have organized the trip.

A prosecutor recommended that the three remain in jail during the investigation.

Reid, a 28-year-old British citizen, has been in U.S. custody since Dec. 22, when he allegedly tried to set off explosives in his sneakers during the trans-Atlantic flight. He was brought under control by flight crew and passengers, and the jet was diverted to Boston.

He has pleaded innocent to nine charges, one of which was thrown out by a U.S. judge on Tuesday. He still faces charges of attempted murder and attempted destruction of an aircraft. The indictment against Reid said he'd received training from the al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan.

In an initial sweep in April, French police took seven Pakistanis into custody on suspicions they had helped Reid. Six of them were later released, and the seventh, who was in France illegally, was sent back to Pakistan.

A report in Le Monde newspaper said the new suspects were fingered by those arrested during the earlier roundup. They reportedly claimed the new suspects had met with Reid eight months to a year before he boarded the flight.

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