- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007

A Tanzanian named in the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 persons, including a dozen Americans, has told military authorities he unwittingly delivered the explosives used in the deadly blasts.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani said he was unaware of the planned attacks beforehand and was sorry for the role he played, according to a transcript of a military hearing at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, released yesterday by the Pentagon.

“It was without my knowledge what they were doing, but I helped them,” he said. “So I apologize to the United States government for what I did. And I’m sorry for what happened to those families who lost, who lost their friends and their beloved ones.”

Ghailani, captured in Pakistan in 2004 and later turned over to U.S. authorities, is among 14 high-profile detainees moved to the Guantanamo base in September from a CIA detention facility. Military hearings have been held for five of them to determine whether they should be declared “enemy combatants” and held for military tribunals.

In October 2001, Ghailani was named by the Bush administration as part of a list of “most wanted” terrorists, accused of being an al Qaeda terrorist and of buying a truck used to deliver the TNT and detonators for the embassy bombings in Africa.

Despite his testimony, Ghailani, 33, was named in a December 1998 federal grand jury indictment handed up in New York as a participant in the embassy bombings and was on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list from its inception in October 2001 until his 2004 capture.

Born in Zanzibar, he is considered an explosives specialist and thought to have rented a room at a hotel in Kenya used for meetings by the bombers — flying to Karachi, Pakistan, the night before the bombs exploded.

The indictment said Ghailani and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan purchased a 1987 Nissan Atlas truck in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, along with oxygen and acetylene tanks, that were used in the bombings. It also said Ghailani and others loaded boxes of TNT, cylinder tanks, batteries, detonators, fertilizer and sandbags into the back of the “Dar es Salaam Bomb Truck.”

According to the indictment, Ghailani and others met at the Hilltop Hotel in Nairobi.

In May 2004, U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III described Ghailani as one of seven al Qaeda members who were planning a terrorist action for the summer or fall of 2004. The other suspected terrorists included Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who had also been earlier listed with Ghailani by the FBI as a “most wanted terrorist” for the 1998 embassy attack, and Abderraouf Jdey, Amer El-Maati, Aafia Siddiqui, Adam Yahiye Gadahn and Adnan G. El Shukrijumah.

On July 25, 2004, after an eight-hour battle in Gujrat, Pakistan, Ghailani and 13 others, including his wife and children, were arrested. A Pakistani police officer was wounded in the battle.

Ghailani, during the hearing, denied buying the truck but acknowledged that he was present when it was purchased. He also said he delivered the TNT to Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam of Mombasa, Kenya, another suspect in the embassy bombings.

U.S. military officers are conducting the hearings. If those who are being interviewed are declared as enemy combatants, they could then be charged and tried under the military commissions law signed by Mr. Bush in October.

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