Millennium Plot/Ahmed Ressam

On December 14, 1999, Ahmed Ressam—a 34-year-old Algerian—was arrested at Port Angeles, Washington attempting to enter the U.S. with components used to manufacture improvised explosive devices.

Ressam subsequently admitted that he planned to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the Millennium 2000 celebrations.

Forensic scientists from both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the FBI examined the evidence in this case. An FBI Laboratory Explosives Unit examiner compared evidence found in Ressam’s motel room with items seized in Post Angeles. The RCMP Laboratory identified the presence of explosives and developed a DNA profile from a pair of pants and shoes recovered in Ressam’s apartment. They also observed several holes in the pants that were consistent with an acid spill. With this information, our Seattle Field Office examined Ressam’s legs and discovered a large burn. At the trial, a doctor specializing in burns testified that the burn on Ressam’s leg was consistent with an acid burn.

In the FBI Laboratory, a piece of hair was observed on a piece of clear tape inside one of the four time-delay fusing systems. The questioned hair was examined by our trace evidence experts and determined to have the same microscopic characteristics as Ahmed Ressam’s hairs.

Latent fingerprints developed on the four timing devices and a map of Los Angeles showing three airports circled were associated with Ressam. A date book, on which 13 of Ressam’s fingerprints were developed, included the addresses of two bin Laden collaborators. It also contained the addresses of the firms that Ressam used to obtain the electronic components and precursor chemicals for manufacturing the explosives.

Additionally, credit card purchases at several electronics shops in Montreal, Canada were discovered. One of our explosives examiners traveled to Canada and purchased the same items, demonstrating to the jury that Ressam could have purchased electronic components consistent with the components used in the construction of the time delay fusing systems recovered in the trunk of the rental vehicle.

On October 24, 2012, Ressam was sentenced to 37 years in prison in a third re-sentencing.