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Algerian terrorist in L.A. bomb plot refuses to cooperate

Associated Press Writer

SEATTLE- The man convicted of plotting to blow up the Los Angeles airport on the eve of the millennium has refused to resume cooperating with the government, his lawyers acknowledged in a court filing Monday.

That means Ahmed Ressam's sentencing will proceed as scheduled Wednesday and he likely will receive a longer sentence than he would were to continue cooperating.

The U.S. Attorney's office said that without Ressam's continued cooperation, the prosecution of two co-conspirators will be jeopardized.

"He is now at a point where he feels he can do no more," Ressam's lawyers wrote in a supplemental sentencing memorandum. "Mr. Ressam knows what he did was wrong and hopes the court accepts his statement that he is truly sorry."

Ressam, 38, was arrested in December 1999 at Port Angeles, about 65 miles northwest of Seattle, as he drove off a ferry from British Columbia with a trunk full of bomb-making materials. The Algerian had attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and was intent on bombing Los Angeles International Airport, prosecutors said.

After he was convicted of terrorist conspiracy and explosives charges at trial in 2001, Ressam began cooperating in hopes of winning a reduced sentence.

Ressam told terrorism investigators from several countries about the operation of terrorist camps, but he quit cooperating by early 2003. His lawyers said years of solitary confinement took their toll on his mental state, but prosecutors insisted he simply didn't feel like cooperating any more.

Prosecutors have recommended a 35-year sentence; Ressam's lawyers have asked for 12 1/2 years.

Federal prosecutors want Ressam to testify against his co-conspirators, Samir Ait Mohamed and Abu Doha, who are awaiting extradition from Canada and Britain, respectively.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Bartlett said the government planned to file its own supplemental sentencing memo. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour had delayed Ressam's sentencing by three more months to give Ressam time to resume cooperation.

"He's not cooperating," Bartlett said Monday. "That's the big news that everybody was waiting for."

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