Witness Admits Assassination Plan

Wednesday, February 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK – A star prosecution witness in the embassy bombings trial admitted Tuesday that he offered Saudi officials a plan to assassinate Osama bin Laden, his former boss who is accused of masterminding the deadly 1998 attacks.

Jamal Ahmed Al-Fadl reluctantly disclosed his offer of the plan during cross-examination by an attorney for Arlington resident Wadih el Hage. Mr. el Hage is one of four men on trial in Manhattan federal court on conspiracy charges relating to the bombings.

Defense attorney Sam Schmidt sought repeatedly Tuesday to discredit Mr. Al-Fadl, who has identified Mr. el Hage, 40, as a key player in Mr. bin Laden's terrorist organization, al Qaeda.

Mr. Al-Fadl testified last week that he fled for his life after being kicked out of al Qaeda for stealing $110,000. He said Tuesday that he had also been accused of stealing from the Islamic National Front political party in his native Sudan.

Mr. Schmidt asked Mr. Al-Fadl about his later efforts to raise money to oppose that party, noting that he talked to governments in Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia before he became an FBI informant.

Mr. Al-Fadl said he abandoned the assassination plan because he did not trust the Saudi government.

Mr. el Hage is the only U.S. citizen among the defendants on trial in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The nearly simultaneous attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

If convicted, Mr. el Hage and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 35, could get life sentences, while Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali, 24, and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, could face the death penalty.

During Mr. Schmidt's cross-examination, he sought to paint Mr. Al-Fadl as a mercenary, willing to distort his Islamic beliefs when it served his interests.

Mr. el Hage has said he worked for Mr. bin Laden only in the Saudi exile's legitimate businesses.

Two U.S. agents are expected to testify Wednesday about their searches of Mr. el Hage's house in Kenya.