The Shoe Bomber's World

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From Pakistan to Paris
By 1998, jihad was Reid's chosen path. He took the name Abdel Rahim and on his trips back to Brixton harangued listeners. "We warned him where the extremist ideas he was adopting had led people," says Baker. "But he found our beliefs too passive, too slow." Reid told his parents he was going overseas. Robin says his son sent him a letter from Iran, but if Reid visited there at all, it was probably on his way to a madrasah, an Islamic school, in Pakistan. In 1999 and 2000, Reid appears to have spent much of his time in Pakistan. He seems certain to have crossed the border from Pakistan to a terrorist camp in Afghanistan—probably Khalden, not far from Kabul.

Reid had friends there. Roland Jacquard, a French expert on terrorism, says his sources tell him the former head of the Khalden camp, now detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has identified Reid as a former student. Ahmed Ressam, who was convicted in the U.S. in 2001 for his part in the "millennium" plot to blow up the Los Angeles airport and who is now singing to the feds, is a Khalden graduate and is prepared to testify that he saw Moussaoui there in 1998. The camp seems to have specialized in welcoming recruits earmarked for operations in Europe and North America. On Feb. 4, in an important new development, French authorities arrested Yacine Akhnouche, a 27-year-old Franco-Algerian who has become so chatty that an investigator described him as "going Ressam." Akhnouche, says this official, has said he saw Reid, Moussaoui and Ressam at training camps during his visits.

By the summer of 2001, Reid was back in London. In July he obtained a new British passport in Amsterdam, claiming that he had accidentally put his old one through a washing machine, and flew to Israel on an El Al flight. Once in Israel, according to security sources there, Reid spent most of his time in Tel Aviv, where he cased the mall and office complex called the Azrieli Center as well as the local bus and train stations. ("Abdul Ra'uff" also checked security at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.) After 10 days in Israel, Reid crossed into Egypt and from there flew to Turkey and back to Pakistan before being debriefed (if the Journal's Abdul Ra'uff is in fact Reid) in Afghanistan.

He didn't stay there long. On Aug. 9, Reid was back in Amsterdam. It was a good choice. Amsterdam is an open city. In its streets and bars, a rough-looking and by all accounts singularly malodorous Englishman would hardly merit a second glance. He spent much of his time sending e-mails to addresses in Pakistan from Internet cafes. Presumably, it was during these months that the plan to bomb Flight 63 took shape.

Reid had another reason for choosing the Netherlands. The country, says Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on terrorism at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, has become a center of al-Qaeda activity. In September, Dutch police raided houses in Rotterdam and picked up Jerome Courtailler, a French convert to Islam arrested as a suspected associate in the Paris-embassy plot and yet another young European who was known to have attended the Finsbury Park mosque. Dutch investigators now speculate that before he was arrested, Courtailler helped Reid find temporary employment in Rotterdam.

On Dec. 5, Reid was off again, this time to Brussels, where he applied for yet another new passport; an embassy spokeswoman says his previous one was worn. He stayed at the Hotel Dar Salam in the Belgian capital's Arab quarter, where travel agencies offer bus trips to North Africa and the air smells of figs, oranges and cous-cous. On most days, Reid walked into the city center to send e-mails from the Easynet Internet cafe.

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