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Bin Laden Followers Indicted By Grand Jury for Embassy Attacks

By Michael Grunwald
The Washington Post

A federal grand jury in New York returned a massive indictment Wednesday charging four disciples of Islamic militant Osama bin Laden with participating in a terrorist plot to kill Americans. The plot allegedly included the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on Aug. 7 and the training of militias that attacked American soldiers in Somalia in 1993.

The 238-count indictment represents the most comprehensive account so far in the U.S. law enforcement campaign against bin Laden's network of Muslim extremists and marks the first official allegation that an American citizen participated in his violent conspiracies. Wadih el Hage of Arlington, Texas, a former personal secretary in Sudan to bin Laden who was charged with perjury last month, was indicted Wednesday for his alleged involvement in the plot.

The indictment continues the Justice Department's efforts to portray bin Laden as the man in the middle of international terrorism, alleging that notorious Middle Eastern terrorist groups such as Gamaa Islamiya and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad "operated under (the) umbrella" of bin Laden's lesser-known al Qaida. The document also names as unindicted co-conspirators Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al Zawahiri, Gamaaleader Ahmed Refai Taha and former Gamaa leader Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who provided spiritual guidance to the World Trade Center bombers and is now serving a life sentence for plotting to blow up several New York City landmarks.

The indictment also provides new details about the East Africa bombings, which killed 264 people and wounded more than 5,000 others. For example, it alleges that Mohammed Rashed Daoud al Owhali and a co-conspirator named Azzam "filmed a videotape to celebrate their anticipated 'martyrdom'" and claimed credit on behalf of a fictitious organization before driving the truck that blew up the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.