- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

Federal prosecutors and the FBI won a major victory Tuesday in the fight against terrorism targeted at American citizens. Until now, the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya which left 4,600 injured and 224 dead have been attributed to the elusive Islamic terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and a vast Mafia of faceless conspirators. The District Court in Manhattan gave four of them faces Tuesday after what has been called the most extensive investigation abroad in the history of the FBI. Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed were found guilty of murder and conspiracy. Mohammed Sadiq Odeh was convicted for assisting murder and of conspiracy. Wadih El-Hage, the only U.S. citizen of the four, was guilty of conspiracy and perjury. The court deserves credit for thoroughly processing the evidence and handing down just verdicts, in a timely manner. The bureau should be commended for agility in a highly complex case in which it summoned witnesses from three continents and persuaded two of bin Ladens men to defect and to supply the FBI with information.

You have to wonder, however, why the signals were not picked up before it was too late. Mohamed trained in bin Laden´s camps and rented a bomb factory in Dar es Salaam, where he helped to make the bomb used in the Tanzania attack. Most disconcerting though is the case of Hage, who owned a tire business in Arlington, Texas. Hage had been bin Laden´s personal secretary, but used his U.S. passport to travel around the world raising money for his boss´ terrorist cause. In the early 1990s, he took over operation of a Brooklyn refugee center around the same time as its director turned up dead. He also bought guns in Texas for a follower of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in the World Trade Center bombing. The relief organization of which Hage said he was the director served as a front for the Kenyan branch of bin Laden´s terrorist Al Qaeda group, according to prosecutors. With this kind of history of questionable activity, the fact that Hage was able to do bin Laden´s dirty work for at least six years was in itself quite a victory against law and order.

The story does not end with these four men. At least a dozen other men indicted in connection with the bombing are still at large, including bin Laden. And bin Laden isn´t finished. In April, he urged a convention attended by about 200,000 students from Muslim countries to wage the next holy war. In a statement passed out at the convention, he urged "the young generation to get ready for the holy war and to prepare for that in Afghanistan because jihad in this time of crisis for Muslims is an obligation of all Muslims." At least they stand warned now that there is a price to be paid, including the possibility of the death penalty, for those who target the United States abroad.

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