CNN logo



Main banner

Plane terror suspects convicted on all counts

Terror Trial grfk

September 5, 1996
Web posted at: 3:00 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A federal jury on Thursday found three men guilty of plotting to bomb 12 U.S. airliners in Asia.

The jury found Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the plot, and two other defendants, Abdul Hakim Murad and Wali Khan Amin Shah, guilty on seven counts after two-and-a-half days of deliberations.

all three

Yousef, 29, also is the alleged mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. He still faces trial in that case.

Yousef, who holds an Iraqi passport, also has been linked to schemes to assassinate President Clinton, and Pope John Paul II during the pontiff's visit to Manila.

Each man was charged with conspiring and attempting to bomb the dozen targeted aircraft during a 48-hour period in January 1995. The bombings could have killed 4,000 people aboard the planes, prosecutors said.

The men could face life sentences.

Fire led to arrests

Officials said they uncovered the airline plot in January 6, 1995, when a fire broke out in a Manila apartment where, they said, Yousef and Murad were mixing chemicals.

Yousef fled the country after the fire, and police arrested Murad as he allegedly came back to the apartment to clear out incriminating evidence.

Those items included nitroglycerin, bomb-making equipment, manuals containing bomb formulas, a computer with information on airline flights, timers for detonating bombs and a letter threatening to attack American targets.

The government said the defendants even devised a name for their airline terror plot: "Project Bojinka." 7 Yousef was captured the next month in Islamabad, Pakistan, after a 23-month manhunt.

During the trial, which began in May, Yousef represented himself. Speaking clearly and calmly in his closing argument, he accused police in the Philippines and Pakistan of planting evidence against him.

His appointed legal adviser, Roy Kulcsar, supported that contention: "I think the evidence fully supports the finding that almost everybody who came from the Philippines, certainly everyone who was with the Philippine Nation Police, lied at one critical point or another. They admitted as much in their testimony,"

Timers tested?

In June, a Philippine bomb squad officer cast doubt on the prosecution's case when he testified that his written report falsely claimed a pipe bomb was found in an attaché case outside the apartment door and that he was ordered by his supervisor to list items he hadn't seen in the attaché.

But prosecutors said there was little doubt that Yousef orchestrated the "Bojinka" plot, trained his two co-defendants and tested a watch timer.

Yousef was charged with placing a bomb on a Philippine Air Lines 747 flight from Manila to Tokyo on December 11, 1994, in what prosecutors believe was a test run for the 1995 airline plot. One passenger was killed.

Defendant Shah is accused of testing a different timer by leaving a bomb in a Manila theater.

Shah's attorney dismissed the evidence, saying his client lost three fingers from his left hand fighting in Afghanistan and was hardly a candidate to plan an airline bombing.

But that argument apparently carried little weight with the jurors.

What You Think Tell us what you think!

You said it...

To the top

© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.