USIS Washington 

04 November 1998


(Terrorists will be tracked down, officials say) (920)

By Judy Aita

USIA Staff Writer

New York -- Usama bin Laden and Muhammad Atef were indicted November 4
in Manhattan federal court for the August 7 bombings of the US
embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and for
conspiring to kill Americans outside the United States.

US Attorney Mary Jo White and Assistant director of the FBI office in
New York Lewis Schiliro -- accompanied by a group of other federal,
state and local officials involved in the investigation -- announced
the indictments at a press conference. Ambassador David Carpenter of
the US Department of State also announced rewards of up to $5 million
each for information leading to the arrest or conviction of bin Laden
and Atef.

"Usama bin Laden and his military commander Muhammad Atef are charged
with plotting and carrying out the most heinous acts of international
terrorism and murder," White said.

"Their alleged victims include the hundreds of African and American
citizens who tragically lost their lives in the embassy bombings in
east Africa on August 7, 1998, and the thousands more who were
seriously injured. In a greater sense, all of the citizens of the
world are also victims whenever and wherever the cruel and cowardly
acts of international terrorism strike," she said.

"It is up to the authorities of the world to respond vigorously and
relentlessly to such terrorist attacks. This investigation is
continuing worldwide and will continue until all of those responsible
are brought to justice," White stressed.

Schiliro said that the indictment demonstrates the "resolve and
determination of the entire law enforcement team to bring to justice
all those who were responsible for the murder of innocent Americans,
Kenyans, and Tanzanians on August 7."

"This investigation has been given the highest priority," the FBI
official said. "Our investigative strategy is clear: We will identify,
locate, and prosecute all those responsible right up the line from
those who constructed and delivered the bombs to those who paid for
them and ordered it done."

"Though far from complete, in three short months much has been
accomplished due to the dedication and determination of the
investigators and prosecutors and also because of the professionalism
and total cooperation of the governments of Kenya, Tanzania, and the
Comoros Islands," he said.

The investigation deployed the largest contingent of FBI agents abroad
and included members of the multi-agency joint terrorist task force --
New York City Police Department detectives, US customs agents, US
Secret Service, the New York State Police, the Federal Aviation
Administration, and the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"The work they have done in recovering physical evidence at the crime
scene and developing other leads that will assist in this
investigation cannot be overstated," Schiliro said. "Their resolve and
determination to identify all those involved should not be

New York City Police Chief Howard Safir said that the indictment
"sends a very clear message that terrorists will be held accountable
no matter where they commit their acts."

Both White and Schiliro stressed that the investigation will not end
with the current indictment and is continuing.

The 238-count indictment charges, among other things, that bin Laden
and Atef along with co-defendants Wadih el Hage, Fazul Abdullah
Mohammed Sadeek Odeh, and Mohamed Rashed Daoud al'Owhali, acted
together with other members of "al Qaeda" -- the worldwide terrorist
organization led by bin Laden -- to murder US nationals, including
members of the American military stationed in Saudi Arabia following
the Gulf War and in Somalia as part of UN Operation Restore Hope, as
well as those employed at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. They
established front companies, provided false identity and travel
documents, and provided false information to authorities in various

Bin Laden's "al Qaeda" organization functioned both on its own and
through other terrorist organizations, including the Al Jihad group
based in Egypt, the Islamic Group also known as el Gamaa Islamia led
at one time by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and a number of other jihad
groups in countries such as Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and

Bin Laden, White charged, engaged in business transactions on behalf
of Al Qaeda, including purchasing warehouses for storage of
explosives, transporting weapons, and establishing a series of
companies in Sudan to provide income to al Qaeda and as a cover for
the procurement of explosives, weapons, and chemicals, and for the
travel of operatives.

According to the indictment, bin Laden and al Qaeda forged alliances
with the National Islamic Front in Sudan and with representatives of
the Government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah
with the goal of working together against their common enemies in the
West, particularly the United States.

"In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the Government of
Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on
particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al
Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq," the
indictment said.

Beginning in 1992, bin Laden allegedly issued through his "fatwah"
committees a series of escalating "fatwahs" against the United States,
certain military personnel, and, eventually in February 1998, a
"fatwah" stating that Muslims should kill Americans -- including
civilians -- anywhere in the world they can be found.

Bin Laden and Atef, both of whom are fugitives, if convicted, face
maximum sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole
or death, White said.