Justice Department won't appeal Port Angeles terrorist's sentence

SEATTLE — The federal Justice Department said today it will not appeal the 37-year prison sentence of Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian terrorist who was captured in 1999 after bringing explosives into Port Angeles off the MV Coho ferry from Victoria.

Here is today's news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle:


U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan announced today that the U.S. Department of Justice will not appeal the prison sentence imposed on AHMED RESSAM, 45, the so called 'Millennium Bomber.' RESSAM was sentenced last month to 37 years in prison. The hearing was the third time RESSAM had come before U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour for sentencing since RESSAM was convicted on April 6, 2001.

“After careful consideration, the United States has determined it will not appeal the 37 year sentence for Ahmed Ressam,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “This case, which has spanned over a decade, demonstrates the depth and strength of our democracy and our system of justice. Mr. Ressam joined those at war against our country and despised us for the freedoms we embrace. He planned and almost carried out a deadly terrorist attack at one of our busiest airports at the new year. Even then, we afforded him the fullest measure of due process and justice. The United States argued and believes that Mr. Ressam's actions and his continued threat to public safety merited a sentence that would keep him incarcerated for life. While the Court decided otherwise, this 37 year sentence guarantees that he will remain in prison until he is over 60 years old, at which time he may be deported back to Algeria where additional charges and prison time may be imposed.”

Durkan also stated, “We owe a debt of gratitude to the law enforcement personnel who disrupted the deadly plot. We must also thank and recognize the tremendous efforts of the FBI and CBP agents who investigated and helped prosecute the case, the AUSAs and Federal Defenders who worked tirelessly to obtain justice in a difficult case, and the Court and Court personnel who oversaw all phases of the case and conducted a complex trial in a far-away city.”

RESSAM was arrested on December 14, 1999, as he tried to enter the United States at Port Angeles, Washington. RESSAM had the materials for a powerful explosive in the trunk of his rental car. RESSAM was driving off the ferry MV Coho from Victoria, BC when his nervous demeanor drew the attention of Customs and Border Protection officers.

RESSAM was convicted after an 18 day trial in the spring of 2001. The trial was moved to and conducted in Los Angeles to avoid potential prejudice from extensive pre-trial publicity in Western Washington about RESSAM's crimes and arrest.

RESSAM was convicted of nine counts: An Act of Terrorism Transcending a National Boundary; Placing an Explosive in Proximity to a Terminal; False Identification Documents; Use of a Fictitious Name for Admission; False Statement; Smuggling; Transportation of Explosives; Possession of an Unregistered Explosive Device; and Carrying an Explosive During the Commission of a Felony.

Facing a possible sentence of life in prison, in early 2001, RESSAM agreed to provide information to the United States and testify against others. RESSAM did provide some cooperation and information that was helpful to the government, including the nature of techniques utilized by the “shoe-bomber,” Richard Reid.

However, RESSAM ceased providing information in 2003, then disavowed information he had provided previously.” when he provided the information. At the sentencing hearing last month, prosecutors recommended a sentence that would keep RESSAM incarcerated for life, noting that two key prosecutions have been dismissed because of his lack of cooperation.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI investigated the case.

The case against RESSAM was prosecuted by the late Assistant United States Attorney F. Jerome Diskin, and former Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew R. Hamilton and Steven Gonzalez. At the most recent sentencing hearing the United States was represented by Helen Brunner, the Appellate Chief for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Last modified: November 28. 2012 6:33PM
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