In 2002, Richard Colvin Reid, aka the shoe bomber, appeared in federal court before Judge William Wilson. After admitting his membership in al-qaeda he postured, made a self-adulatory speech, and entered a plea of guilty to eight criminal counts of terrorism arising from his attempt to murder Americans flying from Europe to Miami. Reid sought to characterize himself as a soldier of Islam at war with the Great Satan America. Judge Wilson was not impressed.
Once on the plane and in the air Reid tried and failed to detonate enough plastic explosives to blow the jet, its passengers and crew out of the sky. The FBI opined that due to the dampness caused by Mr. Reid’s sweating feet, it may be that the fuse became too damp to ignite. Flight attendants discovered Reid lighting a match and trying to set fire to what appeared suspiciously to be a fuse extending from a shoe he was actually holding in his lap.
Reid was born in England to Leslie Hughes a white English woman and Colvin Robin Reid, whose father was a Jamaican immigrant of African descent. Reid’s father, one of England’s new immigrants, was a two-bit career criminal then in jail for highjacking a car. Reid quit school and opted for petty theft, assault and other crimes. As his criminal career began to fail, he converted to Islam, trained as a terrorist in Pakistan, loaded the soles of his hiking shoes with plastic explosives and boarded a jet. Although 6 foot 4 inches, and weighing in at over 200 pound, American flight attendants and passengers wrestled the burning match from Reid’s hand. In his attempt to murder Americans, Reid was assisted by Saajid Badat, and Nizar Trabelsi immigrants graced as Reid and his father were graced with the gift of citizenship by a welcoming England and Belgium.
On January 30, 2003, Judge William Young sentenced Reid, to several life sentences. Prior to sentencing, Judge Young asked the defendant if he had anything to say. After admitting his guilt to the court, Reid bragged about his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and Islamic Jihad. He showed no remorse whatever:
“I think I will not apologize for my actions,' and told the court 'I am at war with your country.'
Of course, he was not at war with America. If he were at war with America he would be wearing a uniform and facing off with formidable American soldiers. Actually, a few American men and women, a flight attendant or two, a medical doctor and perhaps an accountant took him quickly down for all his size. No, Reid is not a soldier. He is a common hood turned terrorist, who in his failed attempt at mass murder thought he had discovered a way to aggrandize his wretched life with blood and death and a few dozen or so dark eyed virgins.
Since its ascension to power the Obama Administration has force fed Americans a diet of “Kinetic military operations,” “Overseas Contingency Operations”, “Man Made Disasters,” “Quantitative Easing,” “Work Place Incidents” (referring to the Jihadist massacre of American soldiers at Ft. Hood), and a pastiche of Orwellian outrages of plain English calculated to obliterate “transparency.” We may presume therefore that the Obama Administration believes that we ignorant Americans are easily befuddled by flatulent euphemisms.
How good it is to find respite in Judge Wilson’s well-crafted words. The good judge graced an ancient and powerful English language with that same gravitas Pericles expressed in Greek to Athenians at war with Sparta, that Scipio Africanus shouted in Latin to Roman soldiers beneath the walls of Carthage, that Winston Churchill offered as the cost of victory, “blood, sweat and tears”, to a courageous British people.
Judge Wilson speaks to a plain justice sorely due, a poetic justice that reflects well upon good, courageous and sometimes defiant Americans. Judge Wilson had this to say to Richard C. Reid, a terrorist, a would be killer of Americans.
- … hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you. This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.
- Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.
- You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier, you are not----- you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists.
- We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice. So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: 'You're no big deal.'
- You are no big deal.
- What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing? And, I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.
- It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea.
- It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom, so that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges.
- We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. The day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure.
- Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice
- See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.
Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down.
 Richard Reid, (The Shoe Bomber), Wikipedia