Mastermind in Bly Oregon terror camp plot sentenced to life
September 15, 2009
Lebanese-born Swede gets life for terror camp plot
NEW YORK — A Lebanese-born Swede was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for plotting to open a terrorism training camp in Oregon in 1999 to help al-Qaida. U.S. District Judge John Keenan called Oussama Kassir "a clear threat to public safety" when he announced the sentence. Kassir was convicted in May on charges that he supported al-Qaida by trying to help open the camp in Bly, Ore.
Before the sentence was imposed, Kassir spoke through an interpreter, telling the judge that witnesses during his trial lied. He also said the jury could not have adequately studied the evidence because the deliberations lasted only two hours. Kassir complained about his treatment in U.S. custody, saying that he was subjected to psychological and religious torture. He said he initially was not allowed to have a Quran and was not given food appropriate to his religion. When he refused to eat, he was tied to a chair and a tube was inserted "in a violent fashion," causing him to feel close to death, he said. The judge said he had ordered that Kassir be provided with a Quran and newspapers prior to his trial. "In an effort to keep him alive, they force-fed him," Keenan said.
At trial, prosecutors argued that Kassir tried to set up a weapons-training post in Oregon so al-Qaida could take advantage of relaxed U.S. gun laws and train European recruits for Islamic militancy. Prosecutors also said Kassir distributed manuals over the Internet that trained militants on how to make bombs, poison people and slit throats.
Kassir spent several months in the United States in early 2000 before returning to Europe. At Kassir's trial, James Ujaama, a Denver-born man who was a government witness, testified that Kassir became angered when he took him to Oregon because the camp there lacked young recruits and weapons. Ujaama testified that he had wanted to start the camp to prepare Muslims to go to Afghanistan and fight the Taliban's enemies, but the camp never really got off the ground. Ujaama is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to providing material support to terrorists by trying to set up the camp. His testimony could win him leniency from a potential 30-year prison term.