Man pleads guilty in U.S. embassy bombings


Associated Press

NEW YORK – Admitting he plotted with Osama bin Laden to kill Americans, a former Army sergeant pleaded guilty today to conspiracy charges related to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people.

Ali Mohamed, 48, became the first person to plead guilty in connection with the bombings in which 12 Americans were among those killed. He had reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand first said the agreement guaranteed a minimum of 25 years in prison, but after an objection by defense attorneys, the judge did not specify the length of the potential prison term.

Mohamed, who entered the courtroom in leg shackles, stood in his prison blue uniform as he pleaded guilty to five counts. He admitted he conspired with bin Laden and others to murder Americans anywhere they could be found, to attack the U.S. military in Somalia and Saudi Arabia, to kill Americans at unspecified embassies, and to conceal the conspiracy.

He said the object of the conspiracy that he joined in the late 1980s was to force the United States out of the Mideast.

Mohamed, a native of Egypt, was among 17 people named in an indictment that resulted from the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Mohamed left the U.S. Army in 1989 after three years of service. In the military, he earned a Parachute Badge and an M-16 Expert Badge, teaching soldiers in the special forces about Muslim culture.

In entering his plea, Mohamed read from a statement in which he admitted he helped secretly move bin Laden from Pakistan to Sudan and trained members of his terrorist organization, al Qaeda.

Bin Laden, a Saudi-born millionaire, has been portrayed by the U.S. government as the mastermind of the bombings of the U.S. embassies.

Mohamed, during his plea, pointed the finger at bin Laden as central in a massive conspiracy by members of an Islamic holy war to target U.S. military installations and embassies worldwide.

“The objective of all of this was to attack any Western target in the Middle East,” Mohamed said.

Mohamed’s trial, the first in the investigation, was scheduled to begin in January with five of the 17 named in the indictment.

Of those charged so far, six defendants are held in New York, three others are held abroad and eight are fugitives, including bin Laden, who is on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List.

The U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward for the capture of each fugitive.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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