'Millennium Bomber' Jailed For Plotting 1999 New Year's Eve Bombing

Ahmed RessamAhmed Ressam

Photo: Police Handout/CBC News

Al-Qaeda member Ahmed Ressam, who was arrested as he entered the United States driving a car packed with explosives, was previously jailed for 22 years, twice, but both sentences were quashed, the last in 2010.On Wednesday, US District Court Judge John Coughenour, ruling in court in Seattle, rebuffed a prosecution call for a Ressam to be jailed for 65 years to life, in passing a sentence of 37 years.

“This case provokes our greatest fears. In the late 1990s, Mr. Ressam plotted a terrorist attack to kill and injure a large number of people,” said his 18-page sentencing order, posted online.

“Many, including the federal government, believe that Mr. Ressam is a continuing threat and he should never see freedom again. But fear is not, nor has it ever been, the guide for a federal sentencing judge.

“The court is imposing a sentence that is sufficient, but not greater than necessary,” he said, citing federal sentencing guidelines.

Ressam was arrested as he crossed the US-Canadian border with a carload of explosives which prosecutors said he planned to detonate at Los Angeles’s busy airport in a spectacular eve-of-Millennium attack.

He was convicted of nine counts connected to the plot in April 2001, but sentencing was delayed until 2005 as US authorities sought his cooperation to help uncover information about other global terror suspects.

Ressam was eventually jailed for 22 years, but his sentence was vacated after he successfully challenged his conviction on one of the charges — relating to declarations made to customs officials — on technical grounds.

In January 2007, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld his appeal and ordered the entire sentence be sent back to a lower court for resentencing.

A judge reaffirmed the 22-year sentence in 2008, prompting a new appeal by prosecutors, resulting in the sentence being quashed in February 2010.

Copyright (2012) AFP. All rights reserved.

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