Two suspects identified as members of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization were indicted Monday for alleged involvement in last month's bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The indictments are the first to charge members of al Qaeda with the actual bombings. Bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire and leader of al Qaeda, is suspected of masterminding both bombings.
Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 33, a Jordanian national, and Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali, who held a Yemeni passport, were named in a four-count indictment charging them with conspiring to bomb the embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, conspiring to murder U.S. citizens and carrying out both bombings.
The blast at the Nairobi embassy Aug. 7 killed 259 people, including 12 Americans, and injured nearly 5,000 others. An almost-simultaneous bombing of the Tanzania embassy claimed 11 lives, all of them Tanzanians, and injured 72 others.
Both Odeh and al-'Owhali have been held without bail since late last month, when they were sent to this country by Kenyan authorities. If convicted, they face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
In previous court papers, al-'Owhali was described as having thrown a grenade at guards outside the Nairobi embassy just before the blast, while Odeh allegedly insisted he had been involved in the initial plotting of the bombing but told authorities he left Kenya the day before the bombing.
The indictment gave new details why al Qaeda, the international terrorist organization whose members are believed to have carried out the embassy bombings, targeted the United States:
A charge that al Qaeda regarded Americans as "infidels" because the United States is governed in a manner inconsistent with the group's extremist Muslim views.
U.S. support of other "infidel" governments and institutions, such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and the United Nations.
The group opposed U.S. involvement in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1992-93, as well as the continued U.S. military presence in the Saudi Arabian peninsula.
The U.S. government's arrest and prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the Muslim cleric convicted of conspiring with his followers to bomb New York City landmarks.
Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney in New York, whose office is prosecuting the bombing cases and successfully prosecuted Abdel Rahman in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings that killed six people and injured 1,000, said the indictment charges both defendants with murdering all those who were killed in the blasts.
"Today marks the next step in the process of bringing those responsible for this terrorist attack on the international community to justice," she said.
Authorities have confirmed that the federal grand jury in New York has voted a sealed indictment against bin Laden. The grand jury was convened after 19 U.S. service personnel died in a bomb blast in June 1996 at a military apartment complex in Saudi Arabia.
In another development Monday, Ms. White's office confirmed that Khalid Al-Fawwaz, 36, a Saudi suspected of belonging to al Qaeda, was arrested Sunday in London on a U.S. warrant charging him with "conspiring with bin Laden to murder United States nationals," starting in January 1993.
Federal authorities said they will seek to have Al-Fawwaz extradited.