The 2001 failed shoe bomb attempt was a failed bombing attempt that occurred on December 22, 2001, on American Airlines Flight 63. The aircraft, a Boeing 767 with 197 passengers and crew aboard, was flying from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, to Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida, United States.
The perpetrator, Richard Reid, was subdued by passengers after unsuccessfully attempting to detonate plastic explosives concealed within his shoes. The flight was diverted to Logan International Airport in Boston, under escort by American jet fighters, and safely landed without further incident. Reid was arrested and eventually sentenced to 3 life terms plus 110 years without parole.
As Flight 63 was flying over the Atlantic Ocean, Richard Reid — an Islamic fundamentalist from the United Kingdom, and self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda operative — carried shoes that were packed with two types of explosives. He had been refused permission to board the flight the day before.
Passengers on the flight complained of a smoke smell shortly after meal service. One flight attendant, Hermis Moutardier, walked the aisles of the plane to assess the source. She found Reid sitting alone near a window, attempting to light a match. Moutardier warned him that smoking was not allowed on the airplane, and Reid promised to stop.
A few minutes later, Moutardier found Reid leaning over in his seat, and unsuccessfully attempted to get his attention. After she asked him what he was doing, Reid grabbed at her, revealing one shoe in his lap, a fuse leading into the shoe, and a lit match. He was unable to detonate the bomb: perspiration from his feet dampened the TATP and prevented it from igniting.
Moutardier tried grabbing Reid twice, but he pushed her to the floor each time, and she screamed for help. When another flight attendant, Cristina Jones, arrived to try to subdue him, he fought her and bit her thumb.
The 6-foot-4-inch (1.93 m) tall Reid was eventually subdued by other passengers on the aircraft, using plastic handcuffs, seatbelt extensions, and headphone cords. A doctor administered diazepam found in the flight kit of the aircraft. Many of the passengers became aware of the situation when the pilot announced that the flight was to be diverted to Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts.
Two fighter jets escorted Flight 63 to Logan Airport. The plane was parked in the middle of the runway, and Reid was arrested on the ground while the rest of the passengers were bussed to the main terminal. Authorities later found over 280 grams (10 oz) of plastic explosives TATP and PETN hidden in the hollowed soles of Reid's black shoes, enough to blow a substantial hole in the aircraft. He was later convicted, and sentenced to 3 life terms plus 110 years without parole. He is currently incarcerated at Supermax prison ADX Florence.
Six months after the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Queens, New York on November 12, 2001, Mohammed Mansour Jabarah agreed to cooperate with American authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence. He said that fellow Canadian Abderraouf Jdey had been responsible for the flight's destruction, using a shoe bomb similar to that found on Reid several months earlier. This claim remains unsubstantiated by the investigation into the cause of the crash, however, Jabarah was a known colleague of Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, and said that Reid and Jdey had both been enlisted by the al-Qaeda chief to participate in identical plots.
Security procedures at US airports have since asked people to remove their shoes before proceeding through scanners, in response to this incident.
Also, the Flight Number AAL63 is still used on the route from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Miami International Airport, using a Boeing 777-200.