Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who played a vital role in the 1998 al Qaeda bomb attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people including 12 Americans and wounded thousands of others, has been sentenced to life by a Manhattan federal court.
Ghailani was sentenced to life on Tuesday for his role in the 1998 bombings of two United States embassies.
Ahmed Ghailani is a remorseless terrorist, mass murderer, and Al Qaeda operative, and now he will spend the rest of his life in prison, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
The FBI had played a central role in the investigation and getting Ghailani convicted.
However, it was not easy to hold Ghailani accountable for his crime.
Ghailani was first indicted on Dec.16, 1998, by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York. In that indictment and subsequent superseding indictments, Ghailani was charged with conspiring with Osama Bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill American nationals and with several related crimes in connection with the twin bombings of Aug. 7, 1998, that destroyed the American Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Ghailani was also charged with 224 individual murder counts for each of the victims of the two embassy bombings.
At the trial, evidence was produced that each of the embassies was attacked by suicide bombers driving large truck bombs packed with approximately 1,000 pounds of TNT. Ghailani purchased the truck as well as tanks of oxygen and acetylene gas that were used in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania. He also stored explosive detonators that were used in the bomb at his residence.
Evidence was also produced that the day before the bombings, using a fake passport in an assumed name, Ghailani flew from Nairobi, Kenya to Pakistan in a coordinated escape from Africa. Two other al Qaeda operatives, a senior operations leader and an explosives expert who had traveled between Kenya and Tanzania in the weeks before the bombings departed Africa for Pakistan on the same flight as Ghailani. Those operatives were also involved with the bombings.
In November, the Department of Justice suffered a setback when Ghailani, the first suspect transferred from Guantanamo military prison to face a U.S. civilian trial, was found 'not guilty' by a Manhattan federal court jury on all but one charge.
Though accused of 285 counts of murder, attempted murder and conspiracy, Ghailani was convicted by the jury of one count of conspiring to damage or destroy U.S. property.
However, it was enough to allow the federal judge to hand over a life term to Ghailani on Tuesday.
They (FBI) spent years of their lives putting this case together - traveling around the world, interviewing hundreds of witnesses, and piecing together fragments of evidence from the bombed-out shells of two American embassies, Bharara said.
Ghailani is the fifth person to be convicted in federal court in connection with the embassy bombings.