- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Four followers of international terrorist Osama bin Laden were sentenced yesterday to life in prison without parole for the 1998 simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 persons, including 12 Americans.

The four men were convicted in May after a three-month trial. Yesterday, a seven-woman, five-man federal jury in New York agreed on life sentences for Mohamed Rashid Daoud Al-Owhali, 24, a Saudi national; Khalfan Khamis Mohammed, 27, of Tanzania; Wadih El-Hage, 40, a Lebanese-American who lived in Texas; and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 36, of Jordan.

"This is a time not for eloquence, but for justice," U.S. District Court Judge Leonard B. Sand said during sentencing, held in a heavily guarded courtroom just 10 blocks from where terrorists also loyal to bin Laden and his al Qaeda network crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center, killing more than 5,000 people.

Judge Sand also ordered each man to pay $33 million in restitution: $7 million to the victims' families, and $26 million to the government. At a presentencing hearing earlier this week, the judge said al Qaeda assets frozen by the Bush administration might be used to pay the money.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said during an afternoon press briefing after the sentencing hearing that the United States had "won a battle today in the war on terrorism."

Bin Laden himself also has been indicted as the mastermind of the Aug. 7, 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He remains a fugitive in the case.

Al-Owhali and Mohammed were convicted of having a direct role in the bombings and could have been sentenced to death, but because the jury deadlocked on whether they should be executed, the judge had no choice under U.S. law but to sentence them to life imprisonment without parole.

During the trial, prosecutors said Al-Owhali 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. They said Mohammed helped prepare the bombs in Tanzania before loading them into a truck and watching as the truck drove away. They said he admitted praying that the attack would be successful.

Prosecutors said Odeh was the technical adviser for the bombings because of his expertise with explosives and stayed with bin Laden in a hotel while the Nairobi attack was being planned. They said El-Hage was bin Laden's personal secretary and used his Texas base to travel the world to raise money and smuggle weapons for al Qaeda.

El-Hage was described by prosecutors as a double agent, living in Arlington, Texas, with his wife and seven children as a front for his terrorist activities.

"He claims to be a citizen, but he's not an American," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. "He betrayed his country, he betrayed his religion, he betrayed humanity."

Key evidence in the case was what prosecutors called a terrorist handbook proclaiming a holy war against the United States and U.S. interests overseas. The book, written in Arabic and translated as "Military Studies in the Holy War Against Tyrants," was found by police in the Manchester, England, apartment of a member of al Qaeda.

The book was what investigators said linked the four men accused in the bombings. It is part of an 11-volume manual, each section containing from 250 to 500 pages. It covers topics ranging from surveillance, resisting and inflicting torture, security, lying to immigration officials, holding a gun, building a bomb, using knives, and obtaining phony documents.

Other suggestions are to rent apartments on ground floors to facilitate escapes and to avoid talking loudly because "prefabricated ceilings and walls do not have the same thickness as those in old ones."

It also detailed ways al Qaeda can keep the FBI from learning of its plans by organizing into small groups or cells, none of which has any idea what others are doing. It said if one cell member is caught, the other cells would not be affected and "work would proceed normally."

The book also suggests that al Qaeda members try not to seem Islamic and not to travel with their wives, saying the women "have an Islamic appearance that attracts attention."

It also encourages members to shave their beards, carry cigarettes, wear cologne and read regular magazines so "no one would suspect they were part of a terrorist organization."

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