Jury convicts four on all charges in embassy bombings
From Deborah Feyerick and Phil Hirschkorn
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Four alleged followers of Osama bin Laden were found guilty of all 302 counts stemming from the nearly simultaneous, 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Two of the four defendants were also found guilty of murder and could face the death penalty: Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali, 24, a Saudi who was accused of carrying out the bombing of the embassy in Kenya, and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, a Tanzanian, convicted of carrying out the Tanzania bombing.
The other two defendants -- Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 36, a Jordanian, and Wadih el Hage, 40, a Lebanese-born naturalized American -- face life in prison on their conviction of the conspiracy charge.
The August 7, 1998, blasts killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
The jury began deliberations May 10, working its way through more than 302 counts involving the alleged anti-American conspiracy, the bombings, and each victim killed in the blasts.
All four defendants were accused of participating in a worldwide conspiracy to kill Americans and destroy U.S. property allegedly led by millionaire Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and his Islamic militant organization, al Qaeda.
According to prosecutors, the conspiracy led to the August 7, 1998, bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali, 24, a Saudi, was accused of carrying out the Kenya bombing and was charged with the murders of the 213 people killed in the attack, including 12 Americans.
Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 36, a Jordanian, was accused of assisting the planning of the Kenya bombing and was charged with aiding and abetting the murders of the 213 people killed in the attack.
Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, a Tanzanian, was accused of carrying out the Tanzania bombing and was charged with the murders of the 11 people killed in the attack. Mohamed was one of five men charged in the attack; he stood trial because he was the only one in custody.
Wadih el Hage, 40, a Lebanese-born naturalized American, was charged with conspiracy for allegedly facilitating the East African terrorist cell as a high-level associate of bin Laden. He was not accused of participating in the embassy bombings, but he was accused of lying before a federal grand jury investigating bin Laden's organization.
During the trial, which began in January, prosecutors called more than 90 witnesses and presented hundreds of pieces of evidence, including:
Clothing laced with bomb residue.
Pieces of the mangled trucks used to carry the bombs.
Boxes of documents, with plane tickets and passports, which prosecutors say link the four men to the conspiracy.
Perhaps most powerful evidence in the prosecution's arsenal was incriminating statements made to FBI agents by the three men charged in the bombings:
K.K. Mohamed saying he helped grind TNT used in the Tanzania bomb.
Al-Owhali saying he threw stun-grenades at the embassy guards in Kenya.
Odeh saying the truck would have caused more damage to the Kenya embassy if it had been turned backward.
After defense attorneys failed to get the statements tossed out by the judge, they tried to persuade the jury to ignore them, calling them coerced, unreliable, biased.
"If they discard the statement, there is no evidence," said al-Owhali's attorney, Fred Cohn.
Prosecutors said el Hage ran a company that helped bin Laden finance his alleged terrorist enterprise. His lawyer repeatedly argued that el Hage was an honest businessman with a poor choice in acquaintances.
"Association does not mean joining a conspiracy. If it did many people in the U.S. would have many problems, said el Hage's attorney, Sam Schmidt.
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