LOS ANGELES, Calif. –An al-Qaida-trained Algerian terrorist–dubbed the “millennium bomber”–was re-sentenced today to 37 years in prison for plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport.
Ahmed Ressam, whose original 22-year prison term was deemed too lenient by a federal appeals court, was caught at the U.S.-Canada border in December 1999 with explosives capable of producing a blast 40 times greater than a car bomb.
Ressam was recruited by al-Qaida and trained to build bombs in Afghanistan. He was one of four militants identified as part of the plot to set off explosions at public venues during the New Year’s Eve celebrations ushering in 2000.
Ressam cooperated with interrogators after his 2001 conviction, providing federal agents with information on other al-Qaida operatives, including alleged co-conspirators held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
His original 22-year sentence, including a 10-year minimum applied for carrying explosives during the commission of a felony, was imposed by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour in Seattle in 2005.
It was the middle ground between the 35 years requested by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the 12 1/2 years proposed by Ressam’s federal public defenders.
In March, a divided 11-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the case sent back to Coughenour for re-sentencing.
Ressam, now 45, is incarcerated at the federal “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colo.