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  •   5 Fugitives Indicted in Embassy Bombings

    By John Mintz
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, December 17, 1998; Page A10

    Five fugitives were indicted in New York yesterday for allegedly conspiring to organize the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Tanzania on behalf of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.

    The indictments, added to indictments against five other alleged plotters and bin Laden himself in connection with the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, brought to 11 the number charged in this country for the two Aug. 7 attacks that killed 227 people and wounded 5,000.

    The State Department also announced rewards of as much as $5 million for help in capturing each of the five, whose whereabouts are unknown. The U.S. government previously announced a $5 million reward for help in the arrest of bin Laden, the scion of a wealthy Saudi construction fortune who U.S. officials say masterminded the almost simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi.

    A new superseding 238-count indictment in federal court in Manhattan charged that the five men rented a residence in Dar es Salaam where they planned the attack, bought the 1987 Nissan Atlas truck that carried the Tanzania bomb and purchased oxygen and acetylene tanks used in the detonation. The attack in Dar es Salaam killed 11 people and injured 85 more.

    Minutes after the Dar es Salaam bombing, one of the five, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, took photographs of the embassy's smoking ruins from a nearby Suzuki Samari, the indictment said.

    Those named yesterday were Mohamed, Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan. With bin Laden and five others previously named, they also are accused of participation in a larger conspiracy to kill Americans in bombings in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996 that killed 25 servicemen and in a clash with U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993 that left 18 Americans dead.

    "Today's charges reaffirm the mutual and unrelenting resolve of the Tanzanian, Kenyan and American authorities to find, apprehend and prosecute every single person who participated in the murderous, terrorist bombings in East Africa," U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White told a news conference in New York.

    Government officials said that as American military forces attack Iraq, they suspect bin Laden's extremist Islamic Qaida organization may be plotting another bombing against U.S. interests in the Middle East. Those fears prompted the State Department on Monday to warn American soldiers, diplomats and civilians in the Persian Gulf to beware of terrorist attack, government officials said.

    "We believe that we have significant credible intelligence suggesting the possibility of an imminent terrorist action in the Middle Eastern region," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon said Tuesday. "For that reason, American citizens have been warned, American diplomats have been warned, and American soldiers have been put on a higher state of threat condition."

    The indictment adds new details to the activities of the bin Laden group in the weeks leading up to the twin explosions, and clearly was informed by former bin Laden associates who have started assisting the FBI build its criminal case.

    Three of the men indicted yesterday -- Fadhil, Mohamed and Msalam -- met with a co-conspirator at a house in Dar es Salaam in the last week of July and the first week of August to make final plans for the bombing, the indictment said. The explosion was detonated by someone identified only as "Ahmed the German," the indictment said.

    The document also described how various of the 11 alleged conspirators fled Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in the days just before or after the attacks.

    White said U.S. authorities have launched a "global hunt" for those named in the indictment.

    Staff writer Liz Leyden in New York contributed to this report.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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