US terror alert after Algerian caught smuggling explosives

THE US Customs Service has placed all 301 ports of entry into the country on high alert, following the arrest of an Algerian who tried to enter last week with explosives and a detonation device. Ahmed Ressam, 32, was caught near Seattle as he drove off the ferry from Victoria, Canada, in a hired car.

A search of the car revealed more than 100lbs of bomb-making supplies as well as the sophisticated detonation device. Officials said Mr Ressam was a resident of Montreal who had been denied political asylum because of suspicions that he had links with the main Algerian terrorist organisation, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). He has been charged with transporting explosives into the US, providing false identification and lying to officials.

Montreal police said that Mr Ressam could be linked to an Algerian citizen who was extradited from Canada to France on charges of involvement in the 1995 Paris Metro bombing. They also said that he was suspected of involvement in a ring that stole money to fund Islamic terrorist groups. He had two convictions for theft.

The US authorities said that they were looking for a possible accomplice, who had been with Mr Ressam during his three-week stay in Victoria. They also noted that the equipment found in his car was very similar to that used by associates of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi citizen said by the US to have masterminded the 1998 bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The alert declared by the Customs Service came just a week after the US State Department issued a global travel advisory notice to Americans living or travelling abroad, warning of the possible risk of a terrorist attack coinciding with millennium celebrations. However, there was no indication that the two events were directly connected.

The earlier warning was addressed primarily to Americans overseas and was subsequently linked to the arrest in Jordan of around 24 people suspected of being connected to Mr bin Laden. The latest reports say that as many as 200 people had been arrested in Pakistan, including one US citizen of Arab origin.

Ahmed Ressam's alleged ties appear to be with Algerian terrorism. While there was speculation - based on the location of the hotel he was booked in to - that he may have been planning a millennium attack in Seattle, or - based on a flight booking - that he was intending to travel to London, the same evidence could suggest that he was trying to escape arrest in Canada.

A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 747 bound for Amsterdam from New York made an unscheduled stop in Boston early yesterday due to a bomb threat, officials said. Flight 644, carrying 266 passengers and 13 crew from John F Kennedy airport, landed at Boston's Logan airport after authorities received two calls warning that it should be checked for a bomb.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Office Administrator - Full or Part Time

£14600 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 2003 the company...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media & Content Marketing Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing, Google certi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn