Federal prosecutors want Ressam resentenced to longer prison term
Prosecutors are seeking yet another sentencing for would-be millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam — this time without credit for helping to convict a fellow terrorist.
The Associated Press and Seattle Times staff
Federal prosecutors are seeking yet another sentencing for would-be millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam — this time without credit for helping to convict a fellow terrorist.
Ressam was sentenced for the second time last week to 22 years in prison for plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the millennium. Prosecutors said at the time that the sentence wasn't long enough, and the guideline range is 65 years to life.
In a motion made public today, the U.S. Attorney's Office asked to withdraw a document prosecutors filed several years ago acknowledging that Ressam cooperated. They say that motion, which provided part of the basis for the lenient sentence, is no longer valid because Ressam told the judge last week he wanted to take back every statement he made to the government, including his testimony against a coconspirator.
Ressam was arrested Dec. 14, 1999, in Port Angeles after coming off the ferry from Victoria, B.C. Inspectors found electronic timers, powders and liquids in the trunk of his rental car that turned out to be the makings of a powerful bomb.
Ressam, 40, was convicted of planning to set off a powerful suitcase bomb at the Los Angeles airport during the millennium holiday. Prosecutors said Ressam had been recruited by a radical Islamic cell in Montreal and had trained in Osama bin Laden-sponsored terrorism camps in Afghanistan.
After his conviction in April 2001, Ressam cooperated with federal authorities in hopes of winning a shorter prison sentence. He became a key source of information on the operation of al-Qaida in Western Europe and North America after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, providing information that led to the prosecution of some of the terrorist organization's top leaders.
Ressam stopped cooperating in 2003, and a court-appointed psychiatrist found that he was suffering from a mental breakdown after years in solitary confinement and repeated interrogations.
When he was sentenced last Wednesday, Ressam said about his earlier statements: "I did not know what I was saying." He also claimed the FBI and attorneys "put words in my mouth." Ressam said years of interrogations and solitary confinement after his arrest gave him a "mental condition" that affected his memory.
Jeffrey Sullivan, U.S. attorney for Western Washington, said after the sentencing that he would seek permission from the U.S. Department of Justice to appeal.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report
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