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World - Africa

Yemeni national charged with 14 counts in Nairobi bombing

In this story:

August 27, 1998
Web posted at: 4:52 p.m. EDT (2052 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- U.S. officials on Thursday charged a Yemeni national with 14 criminal counts -- including the murder of 12 U.S. citizens -- in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, U.S. Justice Department officials said.

Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali was charged Thursday with 12 counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, Justice officials said.

Al-'Owhali, who in Kenya used the name Khalid Salim, will be tried in the United States. If convicted, he could face life in prison or the death penalty, U.S. officials said.

The suspect arrived in the United States late Wednesday from Nairobi, and made his first federal court appearance in New York on Thursday, officials said. He has not been arraigned.

"We will not be intimidated ..."
306 K / 27 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

A second suspect, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, was en route to the United States from Kenya and was expected to arrive later Thursday. Officials did not say whether Saddiq Odeh will face charges upon his arrival.

Sources have told CNN that Saddiq Odeh is cooperating in the bombing investigation.

The pursuit continues

FBI Director Louis Freeh told reporters that while it is significant that two suspects are in custody, a far-reaching investigation continues. Freeh said he could not say at this time whether more people will be charged in the August 7 bombings of the U.S. embassies in the capitals of Kenya and Tanzania. Freeh also said he could not estimate the total number of conspirators involved in the bombings.

The embassy bombings left 258 people dead and injured more than 5,000 others in the two capitals.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno said the massacre prompted the United States to launch its largest overseas investigation in history and that the investigation would continue.

bin Laden
Osama bin Laden is suspected of instigating the bombing attacks on Kenya and Tanzania  

"We're going to pursue every last murderer until justice has been done," Reno said. (Audio 162 K/ 14 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

A martyr's mission

According to the federal criminal complaint unsealed in New York on Thursday, Al- 'Owhali's role in the bombing plot began in March, and that on July 31, he traveled to Nairobi from Lahore, Pakistan.

Three days before the bombing, Al-'Owhali and other suspects surveyed the embassy in Nairobi, the complaint says.

On the morning of the bombing, Al-'Owhali "traveled with a co-conspirator in a vehicle with an improvised explosive device from a location in Nairobi," it says. Upon arrival at the embassy, he threw a grenade at a security guard blocking the entrance to the embassy parking lot, the document alleges.

The defendant told investigators the attack was supposed to be a "martyr mission," and that he did not expect to survive.


Ditching evidence at the hospital

But Al-'Owhali did survive, suffering injuries to his face, hand and back from the blast, Freeh said. He was taken to a Nairobi hospital for treatment of his injuries, where he tried to discard keys to the alleged bomb vehicle and three bullets, Freeh said.

He was later detained by Kenyan authorities and first interrogated two days after the bombing, the complaint said.

The complaint further stated that Al-'Owhali told investigators he was trained in explosives, hijacking and kidnapping at a number of camps in Afghanistan. The camps were operated by exiled Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, who Washington says is behind the embassy bombings, the complaint stated.

He also told investigators that he attended conferences and meetings on terrorism with bin Laden.

Neither suspect was extradited

The second suspect, Saddiq Odeh, also has ties to bin Laden. He was detained by Pakistani officials at the airport in Karachi the day of the bombing.

Pakistani officials say he has confessed to the bombing.

They returned Saddiq Odeh to Kenya on August 14. After three days of resistance, he began to cooperate with FBI and Kenyan investigators, sources said.

He has told investigators that he provided technical and logistical support to the bombers, sources said.

Although the United States and Kenya have an extradition agreement, no formal extradition hearings were held for either suspect before they were flown out of Kenya.

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