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Alleged shoebomber changes plea

By
DAVE HASKELL

BOSTON, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Alleged shoebomber Richard C. Reid plans to plead guilty to all federal charges he tried to blow up a passenger airliner over the Atlantic Ocean by igniting explosives in his shoes, prosecutors confirmed Wednesday.

The British national will plead guilty to all eight counts in the federal indictment against him, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston said.

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Among other things, the indictments alleged Reid received training at Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

The defense motion wants references to al Qaida thrown out, but prosecutors said they were opposed and had the evidence to prove the terrorist link.

Reid's defense attorneys, saying Reid, 28, wanted to avoid negatively impacting his family by going to trial, filed a motion Wednesday afternoon asking Chief Judge William G. Young to schedule a change of plea hearing. He is expected to do so next week.

"There is no 'deal' with the government, Reid is filing this motion at his own choosing," said Samantha Martin of the U.S. Attorney's office.

Reid, a petty criminal who converted to Islam in England, has been charged with attempting to murder all 196 people on board Flight 63 from Paris to Miami last Dec. 22.

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The flight was diverted to Boston after the flight crew struggled with Reid as he allegedly tried to light a match to his shoes.

Reid was restrained, sedated, and taken off the plane in Boston, where his U.S. District Court trial was scheduled to start Nov. 4.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said the government opposed the attempt to strike all references to al Qaida from the indictment.

"The indictment contains only allegations of facts that are relevant to essential elements of the crimes charged," Sullivan said. "The indictment contains no immaterial or irrelevant allegations that are unfairly prejudicial to the defendant."

Reid allegedly boarded the flight at Charles DeGaulle Airport in Paris. The flight carried 183 other passengers and a crew of 14.

While the airliner was over the Atlantic, the FBI was notified of an apparent disturbance on board involving an alleged assault by Reid on a flight attendant.

The government said that about one and a half hours into the flight, a flight attendant smelled what she thought was a burnt match.

According to the indictment, the attendant confronted Reid, who put a match into his mouth and lit another as she went to alert the captain.

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When the attendant saw the scraggly haired and bearded man attempting to set the other match to his shoes, she grabbed for the footwear but Reid shoved her into the bulkhead and then to the floor.

Other crewmembers and passengers came to her aid and subdued Reid, who remained restrained for the rest of the flight. Another flight attendant was bitten in the struggle.

The plane was diverted to Boston's Logan International Airport and landed just before 1 p.m.

If his plea change is accepted, Reid could get up to life in prison.

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