Four followers of Osama bin Laden were convicted today of all charges in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali, 24, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, Wadih El-Hage, 40, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 36, were found guilty on all 302 counts against them — including charges of conspiring to murder U.S. citizens, and officers and employees of U.S. embassies and military facilities.
The anonymous jury of seven women and five men issued their verdict on the 12th day of deliberations in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Mohamed and Al-'Owhali, were also found guilty of charges that expose them to the death penalty, and are expected to face a separate penalty hearing on Wednesday.
Investigators say Mohamed was involved in final preparations for the bombings and returned during the aftermath to shoot photographs. They also say Al-'Owhali rode in the passenger seat of the bomb-laden vehicle en route to the embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and tossed a grenade at a guard outside.
The two other defendants each face life in prison.
El-Hage was a personal secretary for bin Laden and allegedly established a terrorist cell in Nairobi as part of a campaign by bin Laden's organization to kill Americans. Prosecutors said Odeh was the "technical adviser" to the bombings.
A Loaded Scene
The courtroom was packed but quiet as the verdict was returned.
As the judge's deputy read each man's name, followed by a litany of "guilty" verdicts, relatives of defendants wiped away tears or hung their heads.
The defendants, for the most part, appeared emotionless. Odeh, wearing a white cap, took notes. His attorney patted him on the back when he was convicted on the first count.
Outside the courthouse, victims held a news conference. "It was bittersweet. We couldn't have asked for a more attentive jury," said Sue Bartley, who lost her husband in the Nairobi blast.
Claire Aliganga, who also lost loved ones in the blast, said: "It does not do anything for the pain in your heart to lose someone you love."
The guilty verdicts set the stage for more trials: Six other defendants charged in the conspiracy are in custody and another dozen, including bin Laden, are at large.
At the State Department today, spokesman Philip Reeker said a worldwide caution for U.S. citizens and facilities abroad was still in effect, but that the government was "looking into" strengthening or retooling it.
Hundreds of Counts, Months of Evidence
Prosecutors say the four men convicted today were part of a conspiracy allegedly overseen by exiled Saudi dissident bin Laden, which resulted in the deadly Aug. 7, 1998, bombing attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The bombings killed a total of 224 people and injured thousands of others.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers presented their cases over three months, and the jury began deliberating May 10.