Seattle grand jury expands terror charges against Ressam, adds 2nd Algerian defendant

January 22, 2000|By SEATTLE TIMES

SEATTLE -- A federal grand jury in Seattle has expanded its charges against Ahmed Ressam and indicted another Algerian man on charges of involvement in what prosecutors describe as a yearlong terrorism conspiracy.

The new indictment, handed up late Thursday, said -- for the first time -- that the goal of the conspiracy was to destroy or damage buildings or other targets in the United States.

The indictment didn't identify a target, but law enforcement officials have said an attack might have been planned for New Year's Eve celebrations at Seattle Center or New York's Times Square.

The indictment adds more bomb- and conspiracy-related charges to five counts that Ressam, 32, was already facing.

The new charges also allege violations of Washington state laws and add as a defendant Abdelmajid Dahoumane, who is wanted in Canada on explosives-related charges stemming from his stay with Ressam at a Vancouver, British Columbia, motel.

Dahoumane, who is at large, had been wanted in the United States only as a material witness in the case against Ressam.

While the case has been widely painted as a terrorist bomb plot, the new indictment is the first time Ressam has been accused in a court document of promulgating international terrorism.

He and Dahoumane are named in two counts that claim they conspired to commit an act of terrorism across national borders and placed an explosive in proximity to the Port Angeles Ferry Terminal. Ressam was arrested Dec. 14 at the terminal, allegedly while trying to smuggle a large quantity of explosives into the United States in his rented car.

Two other new counts against Ressam allege use of false identification papers and use of a fictitious name to gain admission to the United States. In all, the new counts could add 90 years of imprisonment to the maximum 40 years Ressam already was facing.

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