Khalid al-Fawaaz, an al Qaeda operative, was sentenced in a federal court in connection with the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya, Nairobi and Tanzania in 1998. Fawaaz, 52, was convicted of four counts of conspiracy by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York yesterday.
The 1998 bombing trials saw 26 people being indicted in the U.S. with eight of them, currently serving prison terms. The attacks took place on Aug 7 where a car bomb exploded in a building next to the embassy in Nairobi. In Kenya and Tanzania too, there was a coordinated attack at using truck bombs, almost at the same time. Terrorist group al Qaeda, then headed by Osama bin Laden, claimed responsibility for the attacks which killed 224 people and injured over 5,000.
Fawaaz, who moved to London in 1994, was extradited to the U.S. in 2012. Hailing originally from Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda’s number nine man, was not charged with planning the 1998 U.S. embassy attacks. He was accused of operating an al-Qaeda training camp in the 1990s in Afghanistan, spreading al Qaeda propaganda to mainstream media, sending equipment to their members in Africa and facilitating meet-ups which led to the bombings. He was arrested as part of Operation Challenge in 1998, shortly after bin Laden came before the public.
The P.R. Man
He was known as al Qaeda’s Goebbels, after the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. He ran the Advice and Reformation Committee, an al Qaeda P.R. office, and arranged interviews and journalist meetings with bin Laden at their Afghanistan headquarters. It is known that he was the person responsible for arranging the famous CNN and ABC interviews. All of this happened from his north-west London house. Most of the documents that he received, were faxed to a nearby internet cafe.
After his arrest, when the people were going through his computer, they found drafts of the fatwa that led the “holy war” against the U.S. It said that it was every Muslim man’s obligation to engage in Jihad and rid the land from the occupiers. It also said that whoever manages to kill an “occupier,” has rights to the dead man’s property.
Known Associates and Connections
Fawwaz also worked at an office in Queen’s Park Estate with Adel Abdel Bari, another al Qaeda operative. Bari was found guilty of 224 counts of premeditated murder for the embassy bombings and a conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and sentenced to 25 years in prison in February 2015. Bari’s son, Abdel- Majed Abdel Barry, is suspected to be affiliated with ISIS and was thought to be “Jihadi John,” the man who boasted of beheading American journalist James Foley last year. It was later found out that “Jihadi John” was actually Mohammed Emwazi who lives in the same neighborhood.
Fawwaz faces up to a life in prison sentence and prosecutors think he will be sent to a federal super-max facility in Colorado. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that it was the 10th conviction at trial for the 1998 embassy bombings and hoped that it would give some comfort to al Qaeda’s victims.
By Anugya Chitransh
The Daily Mail: Bin Laden’s Goebbels is jailed at last: Fanatic who helped al Qaeda boss ‘tell his side’ to ABC and CNN will be sent to federal super-max today for 1998 US embassy bombings
Reuters: U.S. jury convicts Saudi over Africa embassy bombings
Photo from Michael Coghlan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Photo of Bombing Memorial from Tim Evanson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License