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Gary Younge
Shoe-bomber sentenced to life in prison

A British citizen who defiantly reiterated his support for Osama bin Laden, Reid had to be restrained by six armed guards as he was taken from a court in Boston shouting abuse at the judge.

Reid, 29, who pleaded guilty last October, accused the US of being responsible for the deaths of "innocent people and children", and said he was a soldier "at war", with the US and had no regrets.

"Your government has sponsored the torture of Muslims in Iraq and Turkey and Jordan and Syria with their money and weapons," he said. "It's in your hands."

"I make no apology," he added.

Judge William Young responded by telling Reid that the US would "hunt down terrorists and bring them to justice". He told him: "You are not a soldier in any war. You are a species of criminal... You are a terrorist."

The judge also ordered him to pay restitution of $250,000 (£150,000) on each of the eight charges to which he pleaded guilty. Since Reid has virtually no assets, the order was mainly symbolic.

Reid was sentenced on eight charges including the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted homicide and placing an explosive device on an aircraft.

Crew members from the American Airlines flight on which Reid tried to cause an explosion also gave testimony yesterday.

In emotional scenes, they spoke of how the attempted attack had changed their lives and how Reid had bitten the finger of a flight attendant who tried to disarm him on the flight from Paris to Miami on December 22, 2001.

Last October, Reid had already taken responsibility for the attempted explosion.

"Basically, I got on the plane with a bomb," Reid said when he pleaded guilty.

"Basically I tried to ignite it. Basically, yeah, I intended to damage the plane... I'm a follower of Osama bin Laden. I'm an enemy of your country and I don't care."

Passengers and flight attendants overpowered Reid as he tried to ignite explosives in his trainers. He was tied up with belts and headphone cords and the plane landed in Boston under escort from fighter jets. There were 14 crew members and 183 passengers on board.

In a motion filed on Wednesday, Reid's lawyers asked Judge Young to sentence him on one of the counts to which he pleaded guilty and which carries 30 years in prison.

But they also asked him to delay sentencing on the remaining seven counts, citing classified government information that could potentially clear him.

Yesterday, the judge refused the request and proceeded to sentence.

Not all of Reid's remarks could be heard as he was wrestled from the court.

Prosecutors said Reid will probably serve his sentence at the federal correction centre in Florence, Colorado.

Defence lawyers said Reid credits his religion with saving him from a life of drug use and despair. They described a troubled childhood and young adulthood, when Reid was plagued by poverty, racism and crime.

Reid, who received al-Qaida training but has not disclosed who prepared the bomb for him, told investigators after his arrest that his failed attack was designed to disrupt US air travel during the Christmas period.

In September, Judge Young ruled that Reid's email - including a message in which he described his duty to "remove the oppressive American forces from the Muslim land" - could be used at his trial.

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