Witness: Bin Laden Mulled Attack on US Embassy in Saudi Arabia
In his third day of testimony, the US government's lead witness in the embassy bombings trial told the court Tuesday that a group led by Saudi exile Osama bin Laden considered bombing the US embassy in Saudi Arabia's capital of Riyadh, according to a CNN.com report.
Jamal Ahmed Al-Fadl said certain members of bin Laden's group, "al Qaeda," proposed blowing up the embassy in 1994 but the plan had been abandoned.
Fadl spoke of the possible attack twice under cross examination by defense attorneys in the course of the day, said the report.
"Did you say, 'Let's not bomb embassies, innocent people could be killed?'" David Stern, attorney for defendant Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, was quoted as asking Fadl.
"No," the witness said.
The witness testified last week that in the summer of 1996 he had warned US officials of potential embassy bombings by al Qaeda, the anti-American group he joined with other Islamic militants in the waning days of the Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation.
Fadl had told the New York court he decided to alert US officials after he was kicked out of bin Laden's organization for stealing $110,000 in al Qaeda funds that he could not pay back.
He also alleged that the Saudi dissident tried to purchase Uranium while he was based in Sudan.
Prosecutors say the 1998 blasts at US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were part of a worldwide plot by bin Laden, who has been indicted for the crimes.
The bombings killed 224 people - 12 Americans, 201 Kenyans and 11 other Africans.
Four suspects are being tried for the attacks, and all pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Saudi national Mohamed Rashid Daoud Al Owhali, 23, and Tanzanian Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, could face the death penalty.
The remaining two, Lebanese-American Wadi el Haj, 40, and Jordanian Mohamad Siddiq Odeh, 35, face life in prison.
One man suspected in the plot has pleaded guilty. Three others are in Britain awaiting extradition.
CNN.com said Fadl approached an American embassy and offered his insider's knowledge of an organization run by a man now topping the US government's most wanted list.
Fadl has placed only one trial defendant on the scene with al Qaeda -- el Haj.
His testimony is part of a plea agreement with the government. He could face up to 15-years in prison for conspiring to attack US military facilities and forces. He has been living in federal protective custody for the past five years, according to the CNN.com.
David Baugh, a defense attorney for al-'Owhali, questioned Fadl Tuesday, said CNN.com.
In the course of the cross-examination, Baugh produced a document showing the bill for keeping Fadl in the witness protection program has cost more than $794,000 since 1999. The FBI's cost has been an additional $151,000 since 1997.
Court will resume at 15:00 GMT Wednesday, with more cross-examination of Fadl by the lawyer for el Haj, and the appearance of two more prosecution witnesses – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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