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World Trade Center suspect called bombing ringleader

Prosecutor David Kelly

In this story:

November 3, 1997
Web posted at: 10:11 p.m. EST (0311 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Prosecutor David Kelly told a federal jury Monday that Ramzi Yousef came to the United States in the fall of 1992 with one goal in mind: to bomb American targets.

In the closing arguments of the trial of the alleged ringleader of the World Trade Center bombing, Kelly said Yousef and his co-defendant, Eyad Ismoil, felt they had the right to "incinerate human beings for some twisted form of protest."

Six people died and more than 1,000 were injured when a powerful bomb exploded in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993.

Prosecutor cites 'indisputable evidence'

Kelly told the jury it had been shown "indisputable scientific evidence" that incriminates Yousef and Ismoil, whom he called "cowards who also left in their wake ... an eternal pain."

Kelly said the evidence included fingerprints, telephone records and testimony from witnesses linking both men to a Jersey City, New Jersey, apartment where the bomb was built.

Four Muslim men were arrested and convicted in the year following the bombing. But Yousef fled and it wasn't until two years later when, with a $2 million reward on his head, he was tracked down in Pakistan.

Kelly reminded the jury that an FBI agent testified that Yousef, "bragged to the agents about what he did," Kelly said. "Yousef's only regret was that (the bomb) didn't kill enough people. It didn't kill the quarter of a million people he was aiming for."

A library of terrorist manuals

Kelly said Yousef came to the United States in September, 1992, with "a library of terrorist manuals, a terrorist's kit." He held up one of the blue manuals for the jurors, telling them that the thick books contained the "formulas for the bomb."

"His fingerprints were all over them," the prosecutor said.

After he arrived, Kelly said, Yousef asked for political asylum. "Yousef asked for protection, if you can imagine that," Kelly said.

Ismoil, said Kelly, was a key participant, telephoning Yousef frequently and helping him load the bomb into the van, which he then drove to the World Trade Center. Kelly said that Ismoil's claim that he thought the van contained shampoo and soap was "nothing more than a pathetic lie."

Ismoil, too, fled after the bombing and was extradited from Jordan in 1995.

Yousef was convicted last year of killing a Japanese man with a bomb he put aboard a plane in December 1994, and of plotting to bomb a dozen U.S. airliners over the Far East in January 1995. He has not yet been sentenced in that case.

The defense attorneys in this case will make their closing arguments Tuesday, and the case is expected to go to the jury Wednesday.

If convicted, Yousef and Ismoil could face life in prison. The other four convicted in the case have been sentenced to 240 years in prison.

Correspondent Mary Ann McGann contributed to this report.


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