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'Proud terrorist' gets life for Trade Center bombing

Ramzi Yousef not eligible for parole

Yousef in court Thursday   
January 8, 1998
Web posted at: 1:22 p.m. EST (1822 GMT)

In this story:

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A judge Thursday sentenced the man convicted of masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and an airplane bombing in 1994 to life in prison without parole. The judge further recommended that he spend the sentence in solitary confinement.

Ramzi Yousef's full sentence -- life in prison plus 240 years -- follows two separate New York trials.

"Mr. Yousef, you are a virus that must be locked away," said U.S. District Judge Kevin Duffy, who read a passage from the Koran, the holy writings of the Islamic faith.

The judge said Yousef claimed to be a Muslim fundamentalist but actually cared nothing for the religion. Instead, he said, Yousef adored "the cult of death."

"You adored not Allah but the evil you had become. I must say as an apostle of evil, you have been most effective," Duffy said. "You just wanted to kill for the thrill of killing human beings."

Before sentencing, Yousef made a rambling, 17-minute statement in which he said, "Yes, I am a terrorist and proud of it as long as it is against the U.S. government."

Yousef and Duffy
Yousef and Judge Duffy during the sentencing   

He denounced the U.S. government as "liars and butchers" for what he called its support of Israel.

In addition, a victim's statement was read from Ed Smith, whose wife Monica was killed in the Trade Center bombing. In it, Smith said Yousef should never be free again.

Duffy said he will recommend that Yousef remain in solitary for life and be visited only by his lawyers.

Hefty fine, too

Duffy, noting that someone might be "perverse enough to buy your story," also fined Yousef $4.5 million and ordered him to pay $250 million in restitution so that any money he might make the rest of his life would go to his victims.

Six people were killed in the February 26, 1993, bombing of the twin towers in lower Manhattan. The December 1994 bombing of a Philippines Airline flight killed a Japanese passenger.

Yousef was convicted of the airliner bombing in an earlier trial.

Map of Project Bojinka terrorist plot

Prosecutors showed at that trial that Yousef also planned to blow up a dozen U.S. airliners over the Far East in January 1995, as part of a terrorist plot he called "Project Bojinka," or chaos in the sky, authorities said.

World Trade Center bombing
Aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993   

Yousef was captured in February 1995 in Pakistan, where he had fled after a fire in a Philippines apartment attracted police to a computer containing details of his plots.

Prosecutors said his terror campaign began when he arrived in the United States in September 1992 to pick a target for a bombing.

Settling on the twin towers of the Trade Center, then the world's second tallest buildings, he joined with other Islamic extremists to buy the chemicals and equipment, prosecutors said.

He fled the United States the night of the bombing, leaving behind letters condemning U.S. support of Israel and threatening more terrorism.

Case still open

After three days of deliberation in November, a federal jury convicted Yousef and Eyad Ismoil on murder and conspiracy charges for their roles in New York bombing.

Ismoil was accused of driving a truck with a 1,200-pound bomb into the Trade Center's parking garage, where it was detonated. He's scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Four men already convicted in the case

Four other men have already been convicted in the case, each receiving a sentence of 240 years in prison.

Another suspect, Adul Rahman Yasin -- who was born in Bloomington, Indiana, and moved to Iraq in the 1960s -- is still being sought and is believed to be hiding in Iraq.

Correspondent Peg Tyre contributed to this report.

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