Q13 FOX News Online
4:25 PM EDT, October 24, 2012
Ahmed Ressam, the man known as the Millennium Bomber, was re-sentenced to 37 years in prison Wednesday at U.S. District Court in Seattle.
The new prison term, increased from Ressam's previous sentence of 22 years, comes months after prosecutors argued the man had gotten off easy. Ressam was arrested in 1999 in Washington state. He planned to drive a car full of explosives to Los Angeles and detonate them at the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve. Prosecutors sought to keep Ressam in prison for life.
At the sentincg hearing, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour acknowleged Ressam was "highly culpable and took substantial steps to carry out a horrific crime." However, the judge decided a life sentence was too harsh, and said it was unlikely Ressam would be involved in another violent conspiracy.
Ressam, an Algerian national, had attended multiple terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. His attempt to bomb LAX and had international backing. A customs agent noticed his nervousness as he departed a ferry from B.C. to Washington, and eventually agents found that his car was full of enough explosives to do the damage of 40 car bombs.
After he was captured, Ressam became a cooperative witness, agreeing to inform law enforcement about terrorist activities in exchange for a more lenient sentence. Information he provided helped law enforcement apprehend the so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid.
However, Ressam's cooperation dwindled, and eventually ceased, making a re-sentencing necessary. A 5-4 appelate ruling in March stated that U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour in Seattle "committed a clear error of judgment in sentencing Ressam." Coughneour sentenced Ressam to 22 years after he was convicted on nine counts, including conspiring to commit terrorism by crossing international boundaries.
United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said only good fortune and alert officials disrupted Ressam's horrible plot to kill innocent civilians.The case, and re-sentencing, demonstrated the strength of the American justice system, Durkan said.
"This case demonstrates the strength of our nation," he said. "We afforded a man who sought to do us the greatest harm the full due process of the law... Our duty is to ensure a just result for the American people."
United States Immigration, Customs Enforcement and the FBI investigated the case.