- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2001

A jury in New York yesterday convicted four followers of suspected international terrorist Osama bin Laden in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
Mohammed Rashid Daoud Owhali, 24, a Saudi national, and Khalfan Khamis Mohammed, 27, of Tanzania, were found guilty of murder and face the death penalty. Wadih Hage, 40, a Lebanese-American who lives in Arlington, Texas, and Mohammed Sadeek Odeh, 36, of Jordan, were convicted of conspiring to kill Americans and face life in prison.
Owhali and Mohammed face a death-penalty hearing beginning today after being found guilty of using explosive devices to cause mass destruction in the Aug. 7, 1998, attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The nearly simultaneous embassy attacks killed 224 persons, including 12 Americans, and injured 5,000 others.
The seven-woman, five-man jury, after three months of testimony and 12 days of deliberations, announced the unanimous verdicts under heavy security at the U.S. District Court in New York.
More than 100 people packed the courtroom to hear guilty verdicts read on each of 302 counts alleged in a 1999 indictment. It took an hour to read all the verdicts.
U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, whose office prosecuted the case, called the guilty verdicts "a triumph for world justice and world unity in the fight against terrorism." She vowed to vigorously prosecute six other defendants awaiting similar trials in the embassy attacks and to pursue 12 more persons, including bin Laden, who have been indicted in the case and are considered fugitives.
Spokesman Phil Reeker said the State Department, which offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible in the attacks, was "very pleased" at the guilty verdicts, adding that many were colleagues "and we will not forget the sacrifice they and their loved ones made."
"We certainly hope guilty verdicts will bring some measure of peace to the families of the victims," he said.
"We remain committed to seeing justice done," he said, adding that the department would continue to work with the Justice Department, FBI and allies overseas to "track, apprehend and bring to justice all those who were involved in the cowardly attacks on our embassies."
Sue Bartley, whose husband, Julian, was killed in the attack in Nairobi, told reporters the verdicts were "bittersweet."
She said, "We couldnt have asked for a better verdict. The jury did a good job."
The four defendants showed little emotion as the lengthy verdicts were read aloud before U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand. Odeh, wearing a white cap, took notes and several of the mens relatives appeared to wipe away tears. Others hung their heads as the verdicts were announced.
Although the bombings occurred in Africa, the United States won jurisdiction in the case because the attacks took place on U.S. property.
The case was referred to Mrs. Whites office, which had been investigating bin Ladens suspected terrorist ties since 1996. The office also had successfully prosecuted 12 men in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
During the trial, prosecutors said:
* Owhali told the FBI he was on the truck that carried bombs to the Nairobi embassy and personally threw stun grenades to distract the guards, but fled before the explosion could make him a martyr. An embassy employee identified him as the man he saw tossing explosives at a guard just before a bomb devastated the building.
* Mohammed told the FBI he helped prepare the bombs in Tanzania before loading them onto a truck and watching as the truck drove away. He said he prayed the attack would be successful. Prosecutors said Mohammed rented a house in Tanzania to assemble the bombs.
* Odeh was the technical adviser for the bombings because of his expertise with explosives and he stayed with bin Laden in a hotel while the Nairobi attack was being planned. He told the FBI the bomb truck should have been backed into the embassy so the blast would not have been directed toward other buildings and civilians.
* Hage, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was bin Ladens personal secretary and used his Texas base to travel the world to raise money and smuggle weapons for a terrorist organization headed by bin Laden known as al-Qaeda.
Defense attorney Edward Wilford said the verdicts would be appealed. The defense argued at trial that their clients would never violate the national laws or those of Islam.


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