Sentence vacated for terrorist captured in Port Angeles in 1999

  • The Associated Press and Peninsula Daily News
  • Monday, March 12, 2012 11:58am
  • News
Ahmed Ressam in 1999.

Ahmed Ressam in 1999.

The Associated Press and Peninsula Daily News

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court has overturned the 22-year sentence of convicted “millennium bomber” Ahmed Ressam, calling it unreasonably lenient.

Ressam was captured by U.S. customs inspectors in downtown Port Angeles shortly after he drove a rented car off the MV Coho ferry from Victoria the early evening of Dec. 14, 1999. The car was found to contain bomb-making materials, and Ressam was later found guilty of plotting an explosion at Los Angeles International Airport around Jan. 1, 2000.

He was convicted of nine criminal counts.

Ressam, according to the government, is an Algerian national who trained in the Afghanistan camps of Osama bin Laden.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled 7-4 in favor of the government’s appeal in a decision released today.

The government argued that sentencing guidelines called for 65 years to life. The 22-year sentence was twice imposed by a federal judge in Seattle.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed that we have to go through another sentencing,” said Tom Hillier, the federal public defender who argued the case before the appellate court in Seattle. “It’s been a long haul for Ahmed. But when it comes to terrorism cases, there are some fairly strong opinions on what should be [the sentence].”

Hillier said the judge will have to impose a sentence longer than 22 years, but the appellate court did not specify any specific length.

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