Former Bin-Laden aide jailed for life for US embassy bombings in East Africa

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WASHINGTON - Ahmed Ghailani, a former bodyguard and cook for Osama bin Laden who became the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a US civilian court, has been sentenced to life in prison over his involvement in the 1998 US embassies bombing in Kenya and Tanzania.

Thirty-six-year-old Ghailani was found guilty in November of conspiracy to damage or destroy US property with explosives but was cleared of murder charges, the BBC reports.

Following Ghailani’s acquittal on that and other charges, Congress had barred US President Barack Obama from moving Guantanamo prisoners to the US.

Ghailani had asked for leniency ahead of his sentencing, saying he had never intended to kill anyone and that he had been tortured.

However, a New York court Judge, Lewis Kaplan, rejected Ghailani’s request for leniency on Tuesday, saying any mistreatment he claimed he had suffered at the hands of his captors “pales in comparison to the suffering and the horror he and his confederates caused”.

“This crime was so horrible. It was a cold-blooded killing and maiming of innocent people on an enormous scale,” Judge Kaplan said.

US Attorney General Eric Holder supported the judgement saying that it demonstrated the US justice system’s ability to hold terrorists accountable for their actions.

“We hope this life sentence brings some measure of justice to the victims of these attacks and their families and friends who have waited so long for this day,” he said in a statement.

Ghailani was captured in 2004 in Pakistan after a fierce battle with government troops. He was later found guilty of being part of the plot in which 224 people were killed in twin bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

He had been held in Guant´┐Żnamo Bay, but was transferred to the US last year in what was widely seen as a test case for whether high-profile terror suspects could be effectively tried in the US judicial system.

In 2001 four co-conspirators were sentenced to life in prison over the August 1998 bombings, in which 224 people were killed. (ANI)

will not be displayed