Embassy Bombing Statements To Begin

Monday, February 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — After a 2 1/2-year wait, the judge presiding over the trial of four men accused of conspiring to bomb U.S. embassies in Africa wasn't leaving anything to chance at the end of a monthlong jury selection.

U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand said extra potential jurors would be waiting Monday in case any of the dozen jurors and six alternates chosen Thursday drop out.

Opening statements were scheduled to begin Monday morning after jurors are sworn in to hear a terrorism case arising from the bombings that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, on Aug. 7, 1998.

The attacks on U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were identified by prosecutors as part of a global scheme targeting Americans masterminded by Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden.

The trial began Jan. 3 in a heavily guarded courthouse that has hosted four other major terrorism trials since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people and injured more than 1,000 others.

Two of the embassy bombing defendants — Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali, 24, of Saudi Arabia and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, of Tanzania — could face death if convicted.

Two others — Wadih El-Hage, 40, of Arlington, Texas, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 35, of Jordan — could face life in prison without parole.

All have said they are innocent.

El-Hage allegedly worked as a personal secretary to bin Laden, helping raise money and spread the messages of the fugitive who remains on the FBI Ten Most Wanted List despite $5 million offered for his capture.

Prosecutors say Al-'Owhali told the FBI he rode in the passenger seat of a bomb-laden van to the embassy in Nairobi and tossed a stun grenade at a guard outside while Mohamed allegedly rented a house in his native Tanzania that was used as a bomb factory.

Odeh allegedly told investigators that he went to Kenya five days before the bombings and met an explosives expert who led the Kenyan terrorism cell.

During the much-anticipated yearlong trial, more than 100 witnesses from six countries will be used to buttress confessions and circumstantial evidence including telephone and computer records.

Prosecutors will outline a conspiracy they say began in the late 1980s when bin Laden organized al Qaeda, an organization largely made up of men who fought successfully against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

They say al Qaeda was used to situate terrorism cells in more than two dozen countries, including the United States.

In all, prosecutors have charged 22 men. Five are awaiting trial in New York, three are awaiting extradition from Britain and 13 remain at large. One man has already pleaded guilty.


On the Net:

Federal Courts in Manhattan: http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov