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'Millennium bomber' sentenced to 37 years in prison

A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] on Wednesday sentenced [order, PDF] a convicted terrorist to a 37-year prison sentence for a 1999 plot to blow up the Los Angeles International Airport. Ahmed Ressam [PBS profile], an al Qaeda-trained terrorist, was convicted of plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve 1999 [CBC timeline]. Judge John Coughenour, who had twice had his sentences of Ressam vacated by the appeals court [JURIST report], refused US attorneys' request for a life sentence, stating "I will not sentence a man to fifty lashes with a whip, and then fifty more for getting blood on the whip." Coughenour imposed the larger sentence after defense attorneys conceded their client's actions likely warranted a three-decade long sentence.

This is the third time Ressam has been sentenced for his terrorism conviction. In December 2008 the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] reissued a 22-year sentence which was later rejected as too lenient [JURIST reports] by a federal appeals court. In May 2008 the US Supreme Court [official website] voted 8-1 to uphold [JURIST report] Ressam's conviction. The court reversed the judgment [JURIST report] of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and ruled that Ressam could be convicted and sentenced under a law [18 USC § 844 text] punishing the carrying of explosives while committing a felony even if the explosives were not related to the felony offense.

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