Terror Probe: Richard Reid's Paris Connection

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The evidence is mounting that would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid, once thought to have acted alone, actually had the support of an Islamist terror network. French authorities now believe the network included a Parisian cell that has so far eluded detection. Reid tried to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami last December with explosives in his shoes. French justice officials tell TIME that Reid, 28, who trained in al-Qaeda camps, repeatedly contacted fellow extremists while in Paris in the weeks before his planned attack. Reid told authorities he bought the explosives in the Netherlands and hid them in his shoes himself, but one French official says he is "virtually certain Reid obtained his explosives while in Paris." Because of their volatility, the chemicals would have needed last-minute preparation in Paris, probably with help. American investigators have found palm prints and hair that didn't belong to Reid on the shoes. Authorities have also found Reid's e-mails, including one from Pakistan urging Reid to try again after a failed attempt to board the same flight one day earlier. French police think Reid, who flew penniless, must have left cash and belongings behind with an associate. Terror expert Roland Jacquard says locating Reid's Paris hosts is crucial because a suicide bomber's last contact is often with a spiritual adviser. "If you find [the adviser], the network falls," says Jacquard. "If you don't, he'll send another Reid on another mission."

--By Bruce Crumley