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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 28, 1998 CONTACT: U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE MARVIN SMILON, HERBERT HADAD PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
MARY JO WHITE, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and LEWIS D. SCHILIRO, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York FBI Office, announced today the unsealing of a Complaint in Manhattan federal court charging MOHAMED SADEEK ODEH with involvement in a conspiracy to bomb the U.S. Embassy Compound in Nairobi, Kenya, on August 7, 1998.
Specifically, the defendant is charged with murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, conspiring to commit murder, and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.
The bombing on August 7 in Nairobi has thus far resulted in at least 258 fatal casualties, among them 12 Americans, and scores of injuries. The first 12 counts of the Complaint charge ODEH with the deliberate and premeditated murder of these 12 American, nationals.
According to the Complaint, ODEH is a member of "Al Qaeda", a worldwide terrorist Organization led by Usama Bin Laden. Al Qaeda's mission allegedly includes killing members of the American military stationed in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere; and killing American civilians worldwide, in an effort to influence, through terrorist acts, the foreign policy of the United States.
In or about August 1996, Al Qaeda, through its leader Bin Laden, issued a pronouncement -- or "fatwah" -- to the effect that efforts should be pooled worldwide to kill Americans, it was charged. More recently, in or about February 1998, Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations acting under the banner of the "World Islamic Front" issued a declaration that Muslims should kill Americans, including civilians, anywhere in the world where they could be found, the Complaint charged. ODEH was allegedly aware of these fatwahs -- and others issued by Bin Laden calling for action against America.
The defendant, a member of Al-Qaeda from in or about 1992, was allegedly trained in explosives. In or about 1993, the defendant allegedly used this training as part of his duties with Al-Qaeda to instruct Islamic fighters in Somalia who were opposed to the United Nations operation in that country.
The Complaint charged that from in or about 1996, the defendant has been living in Kenya, and during that time he has allegedly been in contact with the top commanders of al Qaeda. Furthermore, another member of al Qaeda allegedly displayed TNT and detonators to the defendant during 1996, it was charged.
On or about August 1, 1998, the defendant was allegedly advised that all al Qaeda members had to leave Kenya by Thursday, August 6, 1998, the day before the embassy bombing. On or about August 2, 1998, the defendant allegedly traveled from Mombassa, Kenya to Nairobi for a meeting with other members of al Qaeda, including an individual known to defendant as an explosives expert and the leader of al Qaeda's Kenyan cell. The defendant, who was allegedly using a false passport, stayed with the other al Qaeda members at the Hilltop Hotel. On or about August 5, 1998, the defendant allegedly prepared to travel to meet with al-Qaeda leader Usama Bin Laden.
As further detailed in the Complaint, prior to leaving Kenya, the defendant was allegedly told by other al Qaeda members that members of the terrorist organization located in Afghanistan were in the process of relocating to avoid retaliation from the United States. It was also the defendant's understanding at this time that one member of al Qaeda was to remain in Kenya after the others had departed on August 6, 1998.
The defendant allegedly stated that he would consider doing violent bombings against Americans in Saudi Arabia or Tanzania if asked to do so by Usama Bin Laden but that he would not participate in such an endeavor on Kenyan soil and he further denied involvement in the recent embassy bombings, ODEH also allegedly denied having ever been in Tanzania despite the fact that two other witnesses who know him advised the FBI that the defendant had told each of them that the defendant had been in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for several months within the past year.
According to the Complaint, ODEH accepted responsibility for the Tanzania and Kenya embassy bombings because he was a member of al Qaeda and that group had carried out the attacks.
Ms. WHITE and Mr. SCHILIRO said the following organizations aided the investigation of this case: the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York City Police Department, the Joint Terrorist Task Force, the United, States Department of State, the United States Secret Service, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, the United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the New York State Police and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Ms. WHITE praised the investigative efforts and cooperation of the organizations involved in the case.
Ms. WHITE also praised the Governments of Kenya and Tanzania for their cooperation in this investigation.
United States Attorney General JANET RENO stated: "This is an important step forward, but we are not letting up."
Ms. WHITE stated: "These charges mark the successful beginning of our efforts to bring each and every individual responsible for these attacks on our embassies to justice. We will continue to pursue all those who seek to instill fear and terror through the murder of innocent civilians and we will ensure that they are held accountable for their crimes."
Mr. SCRILIRO stated: "Having just returned from Kenya and Tanzania, I saw firsthand the doggedness and determination of the many investigators from the United States, including the FBI/New York City Police Department Joint Terrorist Task Force. Due to their superb investigative efforts, under very difficult and unique circumstances, and with the total cooperation of the law enforcement entities Of both countries, this investigation has made rapid progress. Those who would do harm to United States citizens or to the interests of the United States or to any innocent victims are put on notice that they will be identified, apprehended and made to pay for their actions."
ODEH was presented today before United States Magistrate Judge SHARON E. GRUBIN in Manhattan federal court, and was ordered detained. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or death.
Assistant United States Attorneys PATRICK J. FITZGERALD, DAVID N. KELLEY, MICHAEL J. GARCIA, and KENNETH M. KARAS are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The Government yesterday indicated that it believed that Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali, who was charged yesterday, is a native of Yemen. However, his nationality has not yet been confirmed. We regret any confusion.
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