Richard Colvin Reid (born August 12, 1973), commonly known as the shoe bomber, is a self-admitted member of al-Qaeda who pled guilty in 2002 in U.S. federal court to eight criminal counts of terrorism stemming from his attempt to destroy a commercial aircraft in-flight by detonating explosives hidden in his shoes. He is currently serving a life sentence without parole in a super maximum security prison in the United States. His crime led to the new requirement of American, and subsequently many other countries airline passengers having to remove their shoes for inspection before boarding a flight or entering an airline terminal.
Reid was born a British citizen in Bromley, South London, to Leslie Hughes, who was of white English descent, and Colvin Robin Reid, whose father was a Jamaican immigrant of African descent. When Reid was born, his father, a career criminal, was in jail for stealing a car. Reid left school at age 16, becoming a petty crook who was in and out of jail himself, the first time for assaulting an elderly woman. He began writing graffiti under the name Enrol with FRF crew, and ultimately accumulated more than 10 convictions for crimes against persons and property, serving sentences at the Feltham Young Offenders Institution and at the Blundeston Prison. According to his father, Reid became depressed and blamed racism for some of his problems. His father advised him to convert to Islam, telling him that Muslims were more egalitarian and they got better food in prison. The next time Reid was incarcerated (in 1995 for petty theft), he converted.
Upon his release from prison in 1996 he joined the Brixton Mosque. He later began attending the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London headed at that time by the anti-American cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and described as "the heart of the extremist Islamic culture" in Britain. By 1998 Reid was voicing extremist views, and may have fallen under the sway of "terrorist talent spotters and handlers" allied with Al Qaeda.