A jury has convicted a Saudi man in connection with the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Khalid al-Fawwaz, 52, could get life in prison after a jury convicted him on four conspiracy counts.
After deliberating for two days, a jury convicted Saudi exile Khalid al-Fawwaz on four counts of conspiracy for the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Africa that killed 224. Following Thursday's verdict, prosecutor Preet Bharara said the five-week proceedings in New York marked the tenth conviction through a trial or guilty plea of a defendant tied to the bombings, which also injured more than 4,000 people.
"We hope this verdict gives some comfort to al Qaeda's victims around the world," Bharara said.
Prosecutors did not charge al-Fawwaz with planning the attacks. They alleged that he had functioned as one of the most trusted lieutenants of Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden while living in London, disseminating the al Qaeda leader's declarations of war to the news media and sending equipment to members of the terror group in Africa.
"Khalid al-Fawwaz did everything that al Qaeda asked of him," assistant US Attorney Sean Buckley had said in closing arguments last week.
Authorities arrested al-Fawwaz in London shortly after the bombings in 1998 and finally extradited him to the United States in 2012 following a lengthy legal battle. Prosecutors had planned to try him alongside two co-defendants: Abu Anas al-Liby of Libya and Egyptian Adel Abdul Bary. However, al-Liby, also known as Nazih al-Ragye, died in US custody last month after longstanding health problems, and Bary pleaded guilty in September as part of a deal that limited his prison sentence to 25 years.
'Theory and inference'
Prosecutors had accused al-Fawwaz of operating a terror training camp in Afghanistan in the early 1990s and helping to lead a Qaeda cell in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, that later conducted surveillance ahead of the embassy bombing there (pictured). However, al-Fawwaz's defense attorneys painted their client as a peaceful dissident who had shared with bin Laden a desire to effect reform in their native Saudi Arabia, but turned away from the Qaeda leader when he began calling for violence against US civilians.
At the trial's close, defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim told the jury that the government had based its case on "suspicion, association, theory and inference." She added that prosecutors had failed to show that al-Fawwaz supported bin Laden's radical ideology.
The trial in downtown Manhattan featured testimony from several victims of the bombings. A number of other victims watched from the courtroom gallery.
mkg/bk (Reuters, AFP)