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U.S. Report: Bombing Suspect Faces Terrorist Charges

Washington, 28 August 1998 (RFE/RL) -- A prime suspect in the bombing of the American Embassy in Kenya is in U.S. custody today following a global investigation that underscored Washington's determination to fight terrorism.

Louis Freeh, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said Thursday at a news conference in Washington that Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali, a native of Yemen, faces terrorism charges in the Aug. 7 bombing that killed more than 250 people and injured 5,000 others. The suspect, also known as Khalid Salim, was flown from Kenya to New York late Wednesday in the custody of FBI agents.

News reports said a second suspect also has been taken to the United States but Freeh and other officials declined to confirm that. He was reportedly arrested in Pakistan.

Also appearing at the news conference was Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, White House National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and Mary Jo White, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the judicial area where the trial is expected to take place.

Reno said the arrest resulted from "the most extensive overseas investigation" in American history.

She said: "We have linked arms with law enforcement around the world - and today we have results."

Reno added: "We are not going to rest. We are not going to forget. We are going to pursue every last murderer until justice is done."

Albright echoed Reno's statement. She said: "Terrorists should understand that America will use every available diplomatic, judicial, economic and, when necessary, military tool to protect our people."

Berger acknowledged that "it is a bit unusual for the secretary of state and the national security adviser to be at this kind of a press conference." But he said it reflected the kind of cooperation that has taken place as the U.S. has embarked upon an intensified effort against terrorism.

Freeh praised the cooperative efforts of law enforcement counterparts in Kenya and Tanzania, where a nearly simultaneous attack on the U.S. Embassy also caused casualties and property damage.

The two bombings claimed the lives of 12 Americans.

It was the American deaths that led to the indictment of the suspect. He was charged with murder, conspiracy and use of weapons of mass destruction. Conviction could carry the death penalty.

U.S. officials said the man admitted tossing a grenade at a guard stationed outside the Nairobi embassy and said the bombing "was supposed to be a martyrdom operation, which he did not expect to survive."

After the bombing, the suspect was treated at a hospital where authorities said they found physical evidence linking him to the bombing. He was then turned over to FBI agents who flew him to the U.S.

Court papers said the suspect told the FBI he was trained in explosives, hijacking and kidnapping in camps in Afghanistan, including camps affiliated with exiled Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden.

Camps linked to bin Laden in Afghanistan were struck by U.S. missiles last week but bin Laden himself was said to have escaped injury.