Algerian Terrorist Makes Plea Agreement

Friday, March 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

An Algerian man has pleaded guilty to charges that he aided the effort to smuggle explosives into the United States as part of a millennium plot to bomb U.S. landmarks, and he has agreed to testify against other suspects, officials said Thursday.

The plea agreement by Abdel Ghani Meskini, 33, may provide a crucial break for federal prosecutors and intelligence officials, who have been stymied in their efforts to link the alleged millennial plan with a global terrorist network.

Prosecutors have agreed to seek a light sentence for Mr. Meskini and to consider putting him in a witness protection program. In exchange, Mr. Meskini will testify against others accused of being involved in the plot to blow up U.S. targets around New Year's 2000.

Another Algerian defendant, Ahmed Ressam, is scheduled for trial in Los Angeles next week. A third, Mokhtar Haouari, faces trial next month in New York.

Mr. Ressam was arrested in December 1999 as he attempted to cross into Washington state from Canada in a rental car that allegedly contained enough explosives to create a blast similar to the one that destroyed a federal building in Oklahoma City. Mr. Haouari and Mr. Meskini were later charged with helping Mr. Ressam by providing fake identification, charge cards and other materials, according to federal court documents.