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“This is Ahmed Ghailani. This is al Qaeda. This is a terrorist. This is a killer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Chernoff said in closing arguments.

The jury heard a former al Qaeda member who has cooperated with the government describe how bin Laden took the group in a more radical direction with a 1998 fatwa, or religious edict, against Americans.

Bin Laden accused the United States of killing innocent women and children in the Middle East and decided “we should do the same,” L’Houssaine Kherchtou said on the witness stand.

A prosecutor read aloud the fatwa, which called on Muslims to rise up and “kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they can find it.”

Other witnesses described how Ghailani bought gas tanks used in the truck bomb with cash supplied by the terror group, how the FBI found a blasting cap stashed in his room at a cell hide-out and how he lied to family members about his escape, telling them he was going to Yemen to start a new life.

The defense never contested that Ghailani knew some of the plotters. But it claimed he was in the dark about their sinister intentions.

“Call him a fall guy. Call him a pawn,” Mr. Quijano said in his closing argument. “But don’t call him guilty.”

Mr. Quijano argued the investigation in Africa was too chaotic to produce reliable evidence. He said local authorities and the FBI “trampled all over” unsecured crime scenes during searches in Tanzania.

The verdict came after the anonymous jurors deliberated over seven days. Ghailani rubbed his face, smiled and hugged his lawyers after the jurors filed out of the courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan had thanked the jury, saying the outcome showed that justice “can be rendered calmly, deliberately and fairly by ordinary people, people who are not beholden to any government, even this one.”

Ghailani will be sentenced Jan. 25.

Defense attorney Peter Quijano welcomed the acquittals. He said the one conviction would be appealed.

“We still truly believe he is innocent of all these charges,” Mr. Quijano said. Still, Ghailani, who could have faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted of some of the other counts, “believed he got a fair trial,” he added.

Prosecutors had branded Ghailani a cold-blooded terrorist. The defense portrayed him as a clueless errand boy, exploited by senior al Qaeda operatives and framed by evidence from contaminated crime scenes.

c This article is based in part on wire service reports.