Peninsula: Similarities between terrorists, Ressam case begin to emerge

Federal authorities have identified more than a dozen hijackers of Middle Eastern descent in Tuesday’s bombings and gathered evidence linking them to Osama bin Laden and other terrorist networks, law enforcement officials said.

In all, perhaps 50 people were involved in the plot that demolished the World Trade Center in New York City and damaged the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., government officials say.

Officials connected with the investigation said Wednesday that authorities were gathering evidence linking the suspected terrorist cells to prior plots — including a failed attempt to bring explosives into the United States through Port Angeles in December 1999.

Federal prosecutors, in gaining a terrorism conviction of Algerian national Ahmed Ressam, 34, in April, successfully linked him to bin Laden and a plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport around the millennial celebrations of New Year’s 2000.

Ressam’s plot failed when U.S. agents in Port Angeles saw bomb chemicals in the back of Ressam’s rental car during a routine inspection after he drove off the ferry MV Coho from Victoria on Dec. 14, 1999.

This full report appears in today’s Peninsula Daily News, on sale throughout Clallam and Jefferson counties.

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