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Second man charged in U.S. embassy bombing

By Gail Appleson, Reuters, 08/28/98

Embassy An artist's rendering of Mohammed Sadiq Odeh, the second suspect in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, as he was arraigned today in New York. (AFP Photo)

NEW YORK - A second suspect in the deadly Nairobi bombing of the United States embassy was charged Friday with murder and for scheming with a violent group backed by the man the United States has said runs one of ''the world's largest terrorist training facilities.''

Security in New York was ratcheted up, with cement barriers in place and traffic blocked in lower Manhattan, as federal prosecutors filed the complaint against Mohamed Sadeek Odeh in Manhattan federal court.

Odeh was accused of complicity with the extremist group, al Qaeda, that is believed to be run by Osama Bin Laden, an exiled Saudi-born multimillionaire accused by the United States of financing numerous acts of violence including the embassy bombing in Nairobi and the simultaneous U.S. embassy bombing in Dar es Salaam.

Odeh was charged with 12 counts of murder and one count each of murder conspiracy and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. On Thursday, another defendant, Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali, was named in a similar complaint.

The men have been charged in New York because of a sealed grand jury indictment returned against Bin Laden by a Manhattan federal grand jury, according to published reports.

National Security Adviser Sandy Berger has described the Bin Laden-financed training camps in Afghanistan as ''one of the largest terrorist training facilities in the world, if not the largest.''

Security at the federal courthouse and adjoining prison was at its highest with cement barriers keeping vehicles away from the buildings and traffic blocked in lower Manhattan.

Both defendants are accused of ''deliberately and with malice aforethought'' carrying out the bombing that killed 12 U.S. nationals named in the complaint ''as well as hundreds of non-Americans.''

The blast in Nairobi killed 253 people and injured more than 5,000. An almost simultaneous attack on the U.S. embassy in neighboring Tanzania killed 10 and hurt dozens of people. Odeh was flown to New York after being held in custody in Nairobi for almost two weeks. He was initially detained on a flight from Nairobi to Karachi, Pakistan, Aug. 7, the day of the explosions.

While in custody in Kenya, Odeh allegedly told authorities he was an active member of al Qaeda and had been trained in explosives at the group's camps in Afghanistan.

He allegedly said he been staying with members of the group at the time of the blast. However he denied participating in the recent bombings.

The complaint describes al Qaeda as an ''international terrorist organization'' that seeks to kill American military stationed in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere and American civilians throughout the world. It says the purpose of the attacks is to influence the foreign policy of the United States.

Bin Laden has signed a ''fatwa'' or religious decree encouraging efforts to kill Americans, the complaint alleged.

According to the complaint, Odeh told authorities that while he was staying with the group at a Nairobi hotel, he was given a new pair of pants and a razor to shave with. He said that al Qaeda members often shave before traveling so as not to attract the suspicions of customs officials. Odeh allegedly said he then shaved as he expected to be traveling to meet with Bin Laden after Aug. 6, the day before the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam blasts.

While Odeh denied participating in the embassy bombings, he accepted responsibility for the explosions because he was part of the group, the complaint alleged.


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