“All these sins and crimes committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his messenger and Muslims. The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in every country in which it is possible to do it…We, with God’s help, call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.”
(Ayman al-Zawahiri, World Islamic Front’ fatwa issued Feb 1998)
Ahmed Ressam was considered an “oddity” within the family, but like many Algerian Muslims it was not a duty to live out their faith literally from the texts. Even the Ressam family understood this. Belkacem Ressam, Ahmed’s father, prayed five times a day and attended services at the mosque on Friday nights. He did not demand that his five sons follow him, though. The problem was not Ressam’s faith, but rather the Algerian government’s insistence to separate the religious sector from the secularist population.
By 1992, Algerian was in a civil war, and Ressam fled the country for France. As the years trickled by the wayward and lost Ressam he found himself in many locations in Canada. he would support himself by living in dim lighted flats, and becoming a thief. By 1998, Settling east of Montreal, he lived with other Algerian immigrants in an apartment. Here Ressam would often pray at Montreal’s Assuna Mosque, he became friends with its muezzin, Raouf Hannachi an Al Qaeda member who trained at the Khalden training camp in Afghanistan back in 1997.
Ahmed Ressam had wanted to become a part of something which would have everlasting effects and give meaning in his troubled life at this point. For weeks Hannachi told him about joining Al Qaeda for the duty of “jihad”. On March 17,1998, Ressam traveled using his fraudulent “Benni Noris” passport from Montreal to Karachi, Pakistan. Here he would meet directly with a known Al Qaeda facilitator, Abu Zubaydah. Between March 1998 til February 1999, Ressam would train at multiple camps. Ressam learned the arts of terrorism as he trained in light weapons, handguns, small machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs), explosives (including TNT, C4 plastic explosives, and black plastic explosives), poisons (including cyanide), poison gas, sabotage, target selection, urban warfare, tactics (including assassinations), and security.
While at Khalden training camp, he met with Zacarias Moussaoui who would later be convicted of being involved in the September 11th attacks. After months of educating himself the truer arts of “defensive jihad”, Ressam found himself aligned with a select group. A six-person terrorist cell that included Ressam was created, and tasked with meeting in Canada. The cell was directed by Abu Jaffar who was a Saudi financier located in Pakistan. Ressam returned to Montreal in February 1999 under the name “Benni Noris”, bringing $12,000 in cash he had obtained in Afghanistan to fund the attack.
The operation was to be called the “Millennium Plot” It consisted of the following:
*Members of Al Qaeda were to bomb four holy sites in Jordan and a fully booked Radisson hotel in Amman, Jordan. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (ISIS Leader) was sentenced in absentia in 2002 for his part in the plot
*The bombing of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on New Year’s Eve.
*The Hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814m which involved the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, an extremist group located in Pakistan and allied with Al Qaeda.
*The bombing of the USS Sullivans off the port of Aden, Yemen.
December 14th 1999, Ahmed Ressam would rent a dark green 1999 Chrysler 300M luxury sedan, where he hid the explosives and all the related components in the wheel well in the car’s trunk. He would drive the car onto a connecting ferry from Vancouver to the United States, thinking he would remain largely unnoticed while traveling under his false name of “Benni Norris”. After the ferry docked in Port Angeles at 6 pm, Ressam intended to be the last car to leave the ferry. As he was going thru customs, U.S. Customs inspector Diana Dean, decided to have a more thorough check of his car as she noticed that Ressam was acting suspicious.
When custom agents checked behind his spare tire well and found numerous evidence of explosives, he was held under arrest. An explosives expert concluded that the materials in his car could have produced a blast 40x greater than that of a devastating car bomb. On January 20, 2000, Ahmed Ressam would be indicted for nine counts of criminal activity in connection with his attempt to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport.
And on April 6th 2001 Ressam was found guilty on all 9 counts of his indictment by a Los Angeles County Court trial. Facing up to 130 years in prison, Ressam began cooperating with investigators after his conviction. He told investigators that there were Al Qaeda sleeper cells inside the United States. he also made aware to investigators that training camps located in Afghanistan were numerous and that Bin Laden and Abu Zubaydah were the facilitators of these camps. This information was included in the President’s Daily Brief delivered to President George W. Bush on August 6, 2001, entitled Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US. By November 2001 however, Ressam began to recant his testimony and also stopped cooperating with investigators. In 2007 he received a 22 year sentence, but in 2010 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ressam’s 22-year sentence was too lenient. On October 2012, he was re-sentenced to 37 years’ imprisonment.