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'Shoe bomber' Richard Reid gets lifer

January 31, 2003 09:17 IST

US District Judge William Young on Thursday sentenced to life Richard Reid, the Al-Qaeda follower who tried to blow up, with explosives hidden in his shoes, an American Airlines flight bound from Paris to Miami just three months after the September 11 attacks.

But before being dragged out of the courtroom, the 29-year-old British citizen said, "You will be judged by Allah!

"Your government has sponsored the rape and torture of Muslims in the prisons of Egypt and Turkey and Syria and Jordan with their money and with their weapons."

The judge said: "We are not afraid of any of your terrorist coconspirators, Mr Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before.

"You are not an enemy combatant -- you are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war -- you are a terrorist. To call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. You are a terrorist and we do not negotiate with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice."

The judge pointed to the American flag behind him and said: "You see that flag, Mr Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is long forgotten."

In Washington, Attorney General John Ashcroft praised the sentence and called the passengers and crew, who had overpowered Reid, heroes.

"The sentence imposed on Richard Reid says to the world that terrorists cannot escape American justice." Ashcroft said.