A Saudi man thought to be one of Osama bin Laden's closest advisors has been sentenced to life in prison by a US court. Among other crimes, he helped set up a Nairobi al Qaeda cell ahead of a US embassy bombing there.
Khalid al-Fawwaz, a former top aide to Osama bin Laden, was given a life prison sentence on Friday for his role in the deadly 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The Saudi national was sentenced by US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York following his conviction on four counts of conspiracy in February. Al-Fawwaz, 52, was charged not with planning or participating in the attacks, while killed 224 and injured thousands, but with being bin Laden's key deputy in London at the time of the attacks - disseminating the terrorist leader's calls for violence to the media and arranging for supplies to be sent to jihadists in Africa.
He was further charged with running an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 1991 and for his instrumental role in establishing the terror group's Nairobi-based cell which conducted surveillance ahead of the embassy bombing there.
I'm a reformer, not a killer, says al-Fawwaz
Al-Fawwaz, along with his defense lawyers, argued that while he was drawn to bin Laden's calls for reform in their native Saudi Arabia, he later turned away from the al Qaeda kingpin when he began calling for violence against ordinary US citizens.
"My goal was reform, not rebellion," al-Fawwaz said on Friday as he faced victims of the bombings in the courtroom, one of whom was left blind in the attacks.
"I can't find words to describe how terribly sad and sorry I am," al-Fawwaz said. "I don't support violence. ... I hope one day people will find other ways to live with their differences other than violence."
Judge Kaplan, however, rejected al-Fawwaz's statements, calling the defendant's intentions sole intentions to "instill terror" and commit murder.
es/kms (AP, Reuters)