Bomber’s plea: Man behind ’93 WTC attack wants prison rules eased

By Robert Gearty New York Daily News

Terrified people flee after the World Trade Center was bombed on February 26, 1993.
Ken Murray/New York Daily News

Ramzi Yousef is doing life plus 240 years in the Supermax in Florence, Colo. – and it’s JUST TOO MUCH for him. He wants someone to talk to. So his lawyer, Bernard Kleinman, is now pleading with an appeals court to soften restrictions at the lockup

The mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing has apparently grown tired of all those pesky rules at a maximum-security prison known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”

Ramzi Yousef, 44, serving a life sentence plus 240 years at the so-called Supermax prison in Florence, Colo., is asking an appeals court to soften restrictions at the lockup. Yousef lives in solitary confinement in a 7-foot-by-11-foot cell and says he no longer poses a threat.His lawyer, Bernard Kleinman, says the government has never explained why Yousef is still being held under special administrative measures, also known as SAMs.

“They don’t say he tried to make a bomb there or tried to have secret communications with another inmate,” he argued Wednesday to the appellate court.

Kleinman whined that Yousef is the only inmate on a cell block that has six or seven cells. Only two people did brief stints on that wing of the prison — a white supremacist and a drug dealer.

“Solitary confinement is a really tough thing to take,” Kleinman said.

Yousef was convicted in the bombing that killed six people and injured more than 1,000 in the February 1993 attack at the North Tower of the World Trade Center. He was also convicted in a plot to bomb a dozen American planes from the sky.

“Yes, I am a terrorist and am proud of it,” he declared at his sentencing in 1998.

Now he wants someone to talk to.

“Human interaction is a big issue,” Yousef’s lawyer said after court.

The basis for Yousef’s appeal was a petition he filed last year challenging the continued imposition of the security measures.

In July 2011, a Manhattan federal judge rejected the petition, saying the proper jurisdiction was the federal court in Colorado.

The three-judge panel questioned on Wednesday whether they had jurisdiction. Prosecutor Nicholas Lewis said they didn’t, and urged the judges to dismiss Yousef’s appeal.

The judges didn’t immediately rule.

Before the 9/11 attack, Yousef was on a wing with Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Oklahoma bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

After 9/11, Yousef got his own cell block, Kleinman said.

Yousef’s cell has a toilet, a shower, a radio, a television and a desk. His meals are brought to the cell, and the only time he can leave is for an hour of recreation.

He’s allowed to have books approved by the Bureau of Prisons but any newspapers he sees are cut to remove the “letters to the editor” section. That’s because of fears there might be a “secret coded message” in one of the letters, the attorney said.

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