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Charges dropped against bin Laden

Federal authorities dropped terrorism charges against Osama bin Laden in court papers filed Friday, formally ending a case against the slain al-Qaida leader that began with hopes of seeing him brought to justice in a civilian court.

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan approved a request from prosecutors to dismiss the charges -- a procedural move that is routine when defendants under indictment die.

The al-Qaida leader was indicted in June 1998 in federal court in Manhattan on charges he supported an ambush that left 18 American soldiers dead in Somalia in 1993.

The indictment was later revised to charge bin Laden in the dual bombings of two American embassies in East Africa that killed 224 on Aug. 7, 1998, and in the suicide attack on the USS Cole in 2000. None of the charges involved the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The charges included conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against U.S. nationals and conspiracy to damage and destroy U.S. property.

Around the time the charges were first filed, the CIA's bin Laden unit was pursuing a plan to use Afghan operatives to capture bin Laden and hand him over for trial either in the United States or in an Arab country, according to the 9/1 1 Commission. Bin Laden evaded capture for more than a decade until May 2, when he was killed during a Navy SEALs raid of his compound in Pakistan.

The court papers filed Friday included a declaration by a Justice Department official detailing the DNA, facial recognition and other evidence confirming bin Laden's identity.

After the raid, U.S. forces collected DNA from bin Laden's body and took it to a base in Afghanistan, said a statement signed by a top U.S. counterterrorism official, Deputy Assistant Attorney General George Z. Toscas.

CIA personnel there compared it "with a comprehensive DNA profile derived from DNA collected from multiple members of bin Laden's family," the statement said. "These tests confirmed that the sample (from the raid) genetically matched the derived comprehensive DNA profile for Osama bin Laden."

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