A divided Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday junked the 22-year sentence imposed on the "millennium bomber" and sent the decade-old case back for a presumably harsher sentence. The sentence for Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian national who trained at Afghan terrorist camps and was convicted of plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport in 1999, on the eve of the new millennium, was "substantively" unreasonable, the court said.
Federal sentencing guidelines put Ressam's exposure at 65 years to life. The government recommended 35 years after considering his initial cooperation, assisting the U.S. and foreign authorities. He later terminated cooperation, ruining at least two vital national security cases, Clifton wrote. And he complicated things by sending a letter to the court recanting certain testimony against another suspected terrorist. Three judges wrote separately to say they were hesitant to join the majority and warn against using this unusual case to draw broader sentencing rules.
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