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FBI agent: Guantanamo defendant had detonator

By Tom Hays
Associated Press / November 1, 2010

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NEW YORK—A former FBI agent says he found a detonator in the bedroom cabinet of a purported accomplice in the 1998 terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

Gerald Bamel testified Monday in New York City against Ahmed Ghailani, the first Guantanamo detainee to face trial in a civilian court.

He told jurors he discovered the blasting cap while assigned to the investigation in Tanzania. He said he was so startled he dropped the device and called in a bomb tech.

Prosecutors allege the Tanzanian-born Ghailani was part of an al-Qaida cell that plotted the nearly simultaneous attacks in Tanzania and Kenya. The Aug. 7, 1998, bombings killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

NEW YORK (AP) -- A detonator was found hidden in the bedroom cabinet of a purported accomplice in the 1998 terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, a former FBI agent testified Monday at the man's trial.

The witness, Gerald Bamel, told jurors in federal court in Manhattan that he made the discovery while still with the FBI and assigned to the investigation in Dar es Salaam. As he dismantled the cabinet inside a suspected hideout used by Ahmed Ghailani and others, he was startled to find himself holding a silver blasting cap.

"I dropped it," Bamel said. "I saw that it was a blasting cap, and I was afraid that it would detonate in my hand and blow my hand off."

He said he summoned a bomb technician to safely remove the device.

Prosecutors allege Ghailani -- the first Guantanamo detainee to face trial in a civilian court -- was part of an al-Qaida cell that plotted the nearly simultaneous attacks in Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The Aug. 7, 1998, bombings killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Ghailani, 36, has been accused of helping buy a truck used in the Tanzania blast and purchasing components for explosives. The defense says he was in the dark about the terror plot.

The day before the attack, prosecutors say, Ghailani and other plotters fled to Pakistan. Authorities say that while he was on the run, he spent time in Afghanistan as a cook and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden and later as a document forger for al-Qaida in Pakistan.

He was captured in 2004 and held by the CIA at a secret overseas camp before being transferred to Guantanamo in 2006.

Four other men were convicted in the embassy plot in the same Manhattan courthouse and sentenced to life in prison.

Jurors were given Election Day off. Prosecutors say they expect to wrap up their case when the trial resumes on Wednesday.

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