Al Qaeda operative al-Fawwaz gets life for '98 embassy bombings

Story highlights

  • Khalid Abdul Rahman Hamad al-Fawwaz convicted earlier of conspiracy charges
  • "Justice has been served," says woman blinded in Kenya blast in 1998

New York (CNN)A former al Qaeda operative was sentenced Friday to life in prison for his involvement in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania -- closing the last pending U.S. trial in the attacks that killed 224 people.

The sentencing of Khalid Abdul Rahman Hamad al-Fawwaz, who prosecutors said was a close aide to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, came in Manhattan federal court three months after he was convicted of conspiracy charges in the case.
"I cannot find words to describe how very sad and sorry I am for the terrible tragedy and loss and pain and suffering it has caused," al-Fawwaz, 53, said before his sentencing as he faced an audience that included family members of the victims of the bombings.
    Al-Fawwaz, now 53, was accused of opening an al Qaeda media office in London in the 1990s and facilitating conversations among al Qaeda operatives ahead of the 1998 bombings.
    The United Kingdom extradited him to the United States in 2012.
    Attending Friday's sentencing was Ellen Karas, an American who was blinded by the bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, where she had been working that morning.
    Karas on Friday stood with a guide dog after the hearing and called the sentence wonderful.
    "Justice has been served," she said.
    But she said she does not feel a sense of closure.
    "They don't give me back my sight," she said. "I don't think it will be closed until I die."