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Airport Gun Incident Raises Eyebrows

Authorities here said a Florida man who was arrested with a loaded pistol in his carry-on luggage had boarded flights in two other cities before the gun was found.

Barry L. Burnstein of Tampa was charged Friday evening with attempting to board an aircraft with a concealed weapon. According to an FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court, Burnstein flew from Tampa to Atlanta before switching flights and continuing to Memphis International Airport.

Burnstein was preparing to board a flight back to Atlanta on Friday afternoon when he was selected for a random search, said Larry Cox, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority president. That search turned up a loaded 9mm Beretta semi-automatic pistol in Burnstein's carry-on luggage, according to the affidavit by Memphis FBI special agent Daniel Sobolewski.

The affidavit said Burnstein acknowledged that the gun was his. While the document does not say if he had the gun in his possession when he boarded the flight from Atlanta, a federal official said the gun "got by security in Tampa."

Burnstein declined to comment when reached by The Commercial Appeal newspaper. Officials at the Atlanta headquarters of Delta Air Lines, whose flights Burnstein was on, said late Friday they were unaware of the incident and had no comment.

Separately, a federal judge Friday ordered Richard Reid, the man suspected of trying to destroy a Paris-to-Miami flight by detonating explosives in his shoes, held in jail without bail after prosecutors produced enough evidence to justify his continued detention.

At Reid's second court appearance since he was arrested last Saturday, FBI Special Agent Margaret G. Cronin testified that tests had determined Reid's shoes contained enough of a powerful plastic explosive to blow a hole in the side of the aircraft if it had been detonated.

In her ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Dein said Reid's "violent and assaultive behavior toward the flight attendants" shows he would pose a danger to the public if released.

"The evidence is that the defendant was trying to set off an explosive device on a flight with approximately 183 passengers and 14 crew members on board," Dein wrote. "He acted with callous disregard for the safety of others, and, in fact, appears to have intended to cause them all serious harm, if not death."

Reid, a 28-year-old British citizen of British and Jamaican ancestry — appeared at the detention hearing in U.S. District Court with his hands shackled, wearing an orange jumpsuit.

He has been held without bail since Saturday, when he was arrested after American Airlines attendants saw him try to touch a lit match to his sneakers during a Paris-to-Miami flight.

Reid was overpowered by flight attendants and passengers, and the plane was diverted to Boston.

Cronin, a specialist in crime aboard aircraft, testified that the FBI had determined Reid was carrying "functioning improvised explosives, or, in layman's terms, a homemade bomb."
She said an explosives expert concluded that if the sneakers had been placed against an outside wall and blown up, they "would have blown a hole in the fuselage." Reid was sitting in a window seat on board the plane.

Reid was charged with intimidation or assault of a flight crew, which carries a maximum 20-year sentence, but the FBI has indicated that additional counts are likely.

Reid's mother, Lesley Hughes, of Frome, in southwest England, offered little insight Friday into his motives, declining to even say when she'd last seen her son.

"As any mother would be, I am obviously shocked and concerned about the allegations being made against Richard," she said. "We need some time to come to terms with the current situation."

Investigators are exploring Reid's conversion to Islam and several overseas trips, including one to Israel, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.

Nachman Klieman, a spokesman for the Israeli airline El Al, said Reid flew on the airline in July and raised suspicion during a security check. Klieman said Reid was subjected to "a very rigorous check of all the items he was carrying, as well as a personal search, including the removal of shoes and sending the shoes to be checked." They let Reid board after determining he had nothing dangerous, Klieman said.

FBI agents are also exploring whether Reid purchased explosive materials or shoes during a recent stop in Amsterdam.

The Dutch secret service said Thursday it was investigating reports that Reid was in the Netherlands in December, allegedly to purchase the shoes.

The attempted attack aboard the Boeing 767 bound from Paris to Miami made Reid the focus of an international probe to see if he is connected to a guerrilla network or if his act was meant as a follow-up to the Sept. 11 hijack plane attacks on the United States that killed about 3,000 people.

U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said Friday there was no credible evidence Reid had an accomplice on the plane and neither U.S. nor European officials have disclosed any links to the al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden, blamed by the United States for the Sept. 11 attacks.

But some possible links have been established. Reid worshiped at the same London mosque as Zacarias Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent who is the only person charged in the United States with being part of the Sept. 11 plot.

In addition, Cronin testified Friday that preliminary tests showed Reid's shoes contained a volatile and powerful plastic explosive called triacetone triperoxide, known as TATP.

TATP can be made from nail polish remover, hair bleach and acid and has been found by Israeli investigators in the debris of car bombs and other explosions blamed on Palestinian guerrillas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Israeli police.

Reid was also identified by al-Qaida fighters in U.S. custody as a trainee at the network's camps in Afghanistan, according to unconfired news reports.

At Friday's court hearing, prosecutors portrayed Reid as a petty thief vagrant with no job, no source of money and no permanent address, who nevertheless traveled around Europe, living in hotels in Paris for weeks before paying cash for Saturday's flight.

Reid has "no verifiable address anywhere in the world," Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin Owyang said, as well as an extensive criminal record that included convictions for theft.

Reid's court-appointed lawyer, Tamar Birckhead, did not ask that he be released but questioned the FBI's Cronin about details of her affidavit.

Before the hearing, Birckhead told Reuters Reid was respectful and helpful in their meetings, which she declined to comment on further.

Dein, however, pointed to "very strong" evidence against him, in ruling: "In addition to the defendant's violent and assaultive behavior toward the flight attendants, the evidence is that the defendant was trying to set off an explosive device on a flight with approximately 183 passengers and 14 crew members on board."

"He acted with callous disregard for the safety of others, and, in fact, appears to have intended to cause them all serious harm, if not death," the judge said.

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