You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

U.S.

  • Suspected Nazi guard’s death a blow to prosecutors
    German efforts to prosecute aging war criminals suffered a setback this week with the death of a retired Philadelphia toolmaker who had long been in the crosshairs of Nazi hunters.
  • Prayers for man who died in NY police custody
    Gospel music mixed with cries of grief at a Brooklyn church filled to overflowing with mourners for the funeral of a man who died in police custody after an officer placed him in an apparent chokehold, and his family was scheduled to
  • FAA lifts ban on US flights to Tel Aviv airport
    The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights to Israel, which it had imposed out of concern over the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets.
Advertisement

Longer prison term ordered for L.A. plot

Ressam

– A terrorist who plotted to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the millennium, now halfway through his 22-year sentence, will have to serve longer after an appeals court ruled Monday that the original punishment did not fit a crime that a judge said could have rivaled Sept. 11.

In a 7-4 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the government’s appeal and sent the case back to a federal judge in Seattle for resentencing for a third time.

The court, which contains some of the nation’s most liberal judges, said Ressam’s plot to blow up the airport on New Year’s Eve 1999, was “horrific” and intended to intimidate the nation and the world.

“Had Ressam succeeded, ‘LAX’ may well have entered our vocabulary as a term analogous to ‘the Oklahoma City bombing’ or ‘9/11,’ ” Judge Richard R. Clifton wrote for the majority. “His clear intent was to intimidate this nation and the world, and he sought to influence world events and the conduct of the United States government through that intimidation.”

Ressam, an Algerian national who had attended training camps for Islamic terrorists, was arrested Dec. 14, 1999, in Port Angeles, Wash.

He had a bogus Canadian passport but his nervousness after arriving on a ferry from Canada prompted a search of his rental car. Authorities found more than 100 pounds of chemicals, along with timing devices and other equipment, to make a fertilizer-derived nitrate bomb.

In April 2001, Ressam was convicted of nine federal charges, including smuggling explosives and conspiracy to commit a terrorist act. Sentencing guidelines recommended 65 years to life in prison, but federal authorities offered lesser sentences if he would cooperate in other terrorist cases.

He cooperated for two years but later recanted some testimony.

The federal judge who sentenced Ressam said he looked at several factors, balancing the harm Ressam planned with the good his cooperation had done in fighting terrorism. But the appeals court said U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour in Seattle committed a “clear error of judgment.”

Advertisement