10 Terrorist Plots That Failed

The Shoe Bomber
The shoes used in Richard Reid's failed attempt to blow up an airplane (R) are displayed with an FBI model of the shoe filled with explosives as part of an exhibit marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

A bad case of the hotfoot led to the demise of this terrorist's plans. In December 2001, Richard Reid took the first step in his dastardly plot. The United Kingdom native and al-Qaida recruit built a hidden compartment into the heel of a shoe and used it to house enough homemade explosives to potentially blow up an airplane.

Wearing the shoe bomb, Reid was able to pass through airport security and board a flight from Paris to Miami. Then his plan suddenly grew two left feet.

Reid had trouble igniting a match and even more trouble getting the shoe-bomb's fuse to light. When the fuse finally sparked, the bomb didn't detonate because Reid's foot was too sweaty [source: Schanzer].

By then, flight attendants and passengers had noticed Reid's suspicious activity and tied him to his seat, where an onboard physician gave him a tranquilizer. Reid later pled guilty to terrorism charges and was sentenced to life in prison [sources: CNN, Elliott].

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