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Investigators track Reid's trail in Europe, Israel



PARIS, France (CNN) -- Investigators in the United States, Europe and Israel are tracking the movements of Richard Reid, the man suspected of trying to ignite plastic explosives on a trans-Atlantic flight last week.

Reid, 28, was arrested Saturday in Boston, Massachusetts, after American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami was diverted following an incident in which he was discovered apparently trying to set fire to one of his sneakers with a match and then was subdued and sedated by passengers and crew members.

The FBI later said the shoes contained sophisticated plastic explosives.

Reid is under a suicide watch in a jail in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He faces a probable cause hearing 40 miles away in Boston Friday on charges of interfering with the flight crew of the Boeing 767.

The British national traveled to several countries since July, including Israel, Belgium and the Netherlands, intelligence sources said.

"We are looking into where he was, where he traveled, with whom he met and looking for any accomplices he may have had," a U.S. government official told CNN.

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Investigators say Richard Reid traveled extensively through Europe and Israel in recent months. CNN's Susan Candiotti reports (December 28)

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Technology is being developed to detect explosives on travelers' bodies, but some potential problems are being mentioned. CNN's Kathleen Koch reports (December 28)

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Earlier this week, government sources said the "very, very sophisticated" nature of the 20 ounces of explosives -- a PETN-based material and a version of C-4 plastic explosives -- found in Reid's shoes suggest he did not act alone.

Some al Qaeda detainees in Afghanistan have claimed to recognize Reid in a photograph shown them by U.S. interrogators, officials said, noting they had no independent confirmation of such a link.

Public defenders assigned to Reid said Thursday they were "unaware of any evidence" connecting their client with any terrorist organization or individual.

Suspect visited Israel for 10 days

Israeli Security Services, in conjunction with the FBI, are looking into what Reid did during a 10-day trip to the country in July, Israeli government sources told CNN.

Reid roused suspicion when he traveled from an unidentified country to Israel on its national airline, El Al, according to airline spokesman Nahman Klaiman.

"Our security people were aroused and [Reid] went through a security check, which included a personal check as well as removal of his shoes, which were checked separately," Klaiman said.

"Only after the passenger checked had passed all of the security checks was he allowed to board the aircraft."

The airline spokesman said he did not know whether Reid used that name or carried a British passport, also noting that Reid did not leave Israel on an El Al flight.

Israeli media reported Reid traveled on a Sri Lankan passport and moved from Israel to Egypt by land.

Reid bought plane tickets to Israel and Egypt in July, according to Belgian law enforcement officials and French antiterrorism investigators.

He spent August through November in Amsterdam, the sources said, working as a dishwasher in several restaurants in the city center.

On December 5, Reid traveled to Brussels, Belgium, on his British passport, checking into a hotel before checking out on December 15, according to European officials.

He spent much of his time in Brussels searching the Web and sending e-mails at Internet cafes, sources said.

The suspect apparently took a train to Paris December 16.

A day later, he paid 13,000 French francs (about $1,750) in cash at a Myream Voyage, a travel agency on the rue des Poisoniers in the 18th arrondissement, or section, in Paris for a two-way plane ticket from Paris to Miami to Antigua.

Police said Reid did not leave Paris before boarding American Airlines Flight 63 on December 22, staying near Gare du Nord, one of Paris' major train stations and the one used by many high-speed trains as well as the Eurostar.

Police said they took Reid's photo to hotels in the area, but no one recognized him, and a check of hotel records turned up nothing.

He apparently ate at many restaurants in the area -- he was carrying the cards of many of the establishments when he was arrested -- but restaurant employees say Reid was always by himself.

-- CNN Correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.



 
 
 
 


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