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Was Richard Reid, the Briton indicted this week on charges of attempted murder — after failing to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami on Dec. 22 — the first shoe bomber?

DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports a spreading conviction among aviation and counter-terror experts that he was Shoe Bomber No. 2, and that American Airlines Flight 587 was brought down 40 days earlier over Queens, N.Y., by Shoe Bomber No. 1.

Their argument springs from a simple question: Why did not Reid simply lock himself in the bathroom and ignite the fuse to the bomb without risk of interference?

The answer is that he was instructed to position himself in window seat No. A 19, next to where the wing attaches to the body of the plane to follow the example of Shoe Bomber No. 1.

A bomb exploding in this position would allow the plastic explosive to erupt through the wall of the cabin and rupture the wing where jet fuel is stored. This position was also close to the center fuel tank in the body of the plane between the wings. If Reid had not been wrestled down by the flight attendants and passengers, the explosives in his shoes would have ripped a hole in the side of the plane and then ignited the fuel stored in the wing.

This, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources, is precisely what happened on the AA flight 587 Airbus bound for Santo Domingo, 40 days previously, with tragic consequences. All 255 passengers and crew died, as well as five people on the ground.

The official explanation is that the crash was caused by turbulence from another jet, mechanical defects in the composite materials in the tail of the plane — causing the tail to fall off — and pilot error. DEBKA’s sources say that explanation does not cover the evidence.

Several witnesses report that a small explosion occurred on the right-hand side of the fuselage, before the second big explosion on the right wing. “It was only then that the plane fell apart.”

As the plane nose-dived, the tail section dropped off and then both engines separated from the airliner, each engine landing over 800 feet away from the crash site.

One aviation expert says there has never been a crash in the history of accidental aviation disasters in which both engines broke away from the plane at the same time.

According to his explanation – based on the physical axiom that every action produces an equal and opposite reaction — a high-velocity explosion on one side of an airliner will cause expelling gases to create a rocket effect that will push the plane in the opposite direction, which weakened the tail.

With the damaged tail rudder only partially attached to the aircraft, the pilot tried to correct the plane’s attitude by using the rudder foot controls. When the plane did not respond, the pilot would have attempted to push the right rudder harder alternating between his left and right foot. This would have been recorded in the black box as “over response” and therefore pilot error.

The violent sideways motion of the aircraft body, produced by the explosion exhaust, would account for the two jet engines falling to the ground, according to the expert source. Thus, although Shoe Bomber No. 1 got away with carrying out his mission of terror, fortunately for the 197 aboard AA Flight 63 Richard Reid was stopped in the nick of time.

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