Convicted Millennium Plotter Helped Feds

An Algerian convicted of plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport (search) on the eve of the millennium later provided information about more than 100 potential terrorists, according to the man's lawyers.

Ahmed Ressam (search) was caught smuggling a trunkload of bomb-making materials into the United States through Port Angeles in December 1999. He was convicted in 2001 of nine charges, including terrorist conspiracy.

Facing up to 130 years in prison, he cut a deal with the Justice Department (search) and began cooperating with authorities in exchange for a promised 27-year sentence.

"Among the individuals he discussed were people whose names meant nothing to us when first heard, but were later identified as significant players in Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks," Ressam's lawyers wrote in court documents in advance of his sentencing this month.

From May 2001 to April 2003, Ressam spent more than 200 hours speaking with authorities about terrorist networks and people with potential connections to them. He also spent 65 hours testifying during depositions or trials, his lawyers wrote.

Among the topics Ressam reportedly covered were training camps in Afghanistan (search), terrorist recruitment, training, cell locations, the use of safe houses and general targets.

Much of the information Ressam provided remains secret. The documents filed publicly in federal court in Seattle this week offer merely an outline of his cooperation; a more detailed summary was filed under seal.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday wrote that they planned to review the detailed summary and decide by April 25 what sections, if any, should be made public. Ressam's sentencing is scheduled for April 27.

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour (search), who will impose sentence, has described Ressam's assistance as "startlingly helpful."

Ressam's testimony helped convict Mokhtar Haouari (search) of supplying fake identification and cash for the millennium bomb plot. Haouari was sentenced in New York to 24 years in prison.

Ressam also provided information about Haydar Abu Doha (search), an Algerian who is in British custody awaiting extradition to the United States, where he is charged with orchestrating the plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport.

In December 2002, Ressam met with German justice officials who questioned him about Al Qaeda for the trial of a Moroccan charged with supporting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist hijackers. Mounir el Motassadeq was convicted in February 2003 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.