Ahmed Ressam

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Ahmed Ressam (1967-), known as the "Millennium Bomber", is an Algerian who was convicted of attempting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 1, 2000. He belonged to al-Qaeda, reported to Abu Zubaydah, and was part of a cell of Algerians trained in Afghanistan in 1998-1999.[1]

Background

The first in his family to get a full education, he developed an ulcer and was sent to France for treatment. While there, he read books banned in Algeria, about how the country went under military rule after independence. According to his brother, he believed the government was corrupt, and, on his return, he began to associate with militant Islamic rebels.[2]

His bitterness increased after he failed the college entrance examination in 1988, and then failed to get jobs with the police and security forces. For a time, he worked in his father's coffee shop, but then emigrated to France in 1992, as civil war broke out in Algeria. He worked illegally in France until 1994, and then flew to Canada, asking for political asylum, which was granted.

In Montreal, where he stayed for four years, he lived in an apartment building known to be the local headquarters of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which was affiliated with al-Qaeda.

He met with Mokhtar Haouari, another Algerian refugee, and had political discussions about bombings. Haouari indicated he wanted to attend jihad training in Afghanistan, gave money to Ressam, and introduced him to Abdelghani Meskini in New York. Ressam denied Meskini orHaouari knew of his specific plan.[2]

Conviction

He was convicted, on April 6, 2001, of nine counts, including conspiracy to commit an international terrorist act, explosives smuggling, and lying to customs officials, in Federal Court in Los Angeles. He agreed to cooperate with U.S. authorities and testify against Facing up to 130 years in prison, Ressam agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Haouari at trial. He was sentenced to 22 years rather than the 130 year maximum.

He was convicted in absentia in France and sentenced to five years for terrorist conspiracy.

Appeal

One of the charges against him was lying to a customs official, a felony. He was then charged with felony carrying an explosive device while committing a felony. [3] In Ressam v. U.S., he claimed that the explosive device had to be related to the felony, which was upheld by the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals but reversed by the Supreme Court of the United States.

References

  1. "Ahmed Ressam", Globalsecurity
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Ahmed Ressam's Millennium Plot", PBS Frontline
  3. 18 U.S.C. Section 844