Incident Summary:

12/22/2001: On American Airlines Flight 63 en route to Miami, Florida, from Paris, France, Richard Reid attempted to detonate explosives in his shoes by igniting them with a match. After several attempts Reid was unsuccessful, possibly due to moisture on the fuse, and was restrained by passengers when a flight attendant smelled sulphur from the lit match. Doctors on board sedated Reid while the flight was escorted to Boston's Logan Airport by two U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets. All 185 passengers and 12 crew members were safely removed; several had minor injuries including a flight attendant who was bitten by the perpetrator when she confronted him. Reid's shoes contained detonator wire and the plastic explosives triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and pentrite (PETN) that could have destroyed the plane if detonated. Reid, a petty criminal who converted to Islam while in jail and was trained by al-Qaida, ultimately pled guilty to all charges related to the incident and was sentenced to life in prison on January 30, 2003.




Western Europe

region/u.s. state:



Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Bombing/Explosion
Type of Attack (more) Unarmed Assault
Successful Attack? (more) No
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Airports and Aircraft
Name of Entity American Airlines
Specific Description Flight 63
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage No
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Explosives Suicide (carried bodily by human being)
Weapon Details
Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) and Pentrite (PETN)
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?Yes
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) No
Additional Information Reid attempted to board a flight the previous day, the 13th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, but failed because he raised the suspicions of airline officials and border police. Reid pled guilty to the following charges: attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction; attempted homicide; placing an explosive device on an aircraft; attempted murder; two counts of interference with flight crew and attendants; attempted destruction of an aircraft; and using a destructive device during a crime of violence.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Al-Qaida No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 1
Number of Captured Perpetrators 1
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 1 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 1
Number of U.S. Injured 1
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
Thomas B. Edsall, "Passenger subdued on plane; Bomb fears prompt incident over Atlantic," The Washington Post, December 23, 2001.
David Johnston, "A Nation Challenged: The bombing suspect; al-Qaeda trained bombing suspect, indictment says," The New York Times, January 16 2002.
Denise Lavoie, "Al-Qaida follower Richard Reid sentenced to life in prison for trying to down jetliner with shoe bomb," The Associated Press, January 30, 2002.