Ex-Sgt. Pleads Guilty

From: "Bruce K. Melson" <doc32751@cookeville.com>
   Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - A former Army sergeant pleaded guilty Friday to
helping to plot the deadly U.S. embassies bombings in Africa, saying
Osama bin Laden once showed him where a suicide bomber could cause
the most damage.

Ali Mohamed, 48, became the first person to plead guilty in connection with
the bombings that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Mohamed said he met with the suspected bombing mastermind after
checking out potential U.S., French, British and Israeli targets in Nairobi,
Kenya, in 1993 and preparing a report containing photographs and

``Bin Laden looked at the picture of the American embassy and pointed to
where the truck could go as a suicide bomber,'' Mohamed said.

After Mohamed entered the plea, U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand at
first said the plea bargain with prosecutors guaranteed a minimum of 25
years in prison. After defense attorneys objected, the judge did not specify
the potential prison term.

It was unclear whether prosecutors would seek Mohamed's testimony
against 16 co-defendants. Prosecutors had no comment, and court
documents filed along with the plea were sealed.

Mohamed, who entered the courtroom in leg shackles, stood in his prison
blue uniform as he pleaded guilty to five counts. He admitted he conspired
with bin Laden and others to murder Americans anywhere they could be
found, to attack the U.S. military in Somalia and Saudi Arabia, to kill
Americans at unspecified embassies, and to conceal the conspiracy.

He said the object of the conspiracy that he joined in the late 1980s was to
force the United States out of the Mideast.

Mohamed, a native of Egypt, was among 17 people named in an
indictment that resulted from the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings of the embassies
in Kenya and Tanzania.

Mohamed left the U.S. Army in 1989 after three years of service. In the
military, he earned a Parachute Badge and an M-16 Expert Badge,
teaching soldiers in the special forces about Muslim culture.

In entering his plea, Mohamed read from a statement in which he admitted
he helped secretly move bin Laden from Pakistan to Sudan and trained
members of his terrorist organization, al Qaeda.

Bin Laden, a Saudi-born millionaire, has been portrayed by the U.S.
government as the mastermind of the bombings of the U.S. embassies.

Mohamed, during his plea, pointed the finger at bin Laden as central in a
massive conspiracy by members of an Islamic holy war to target U.S.
military installations and embassies worldwide.

``The objective of all of this was to attack any Western target in the
East,'' Mohamed said.

Mohamed's trial, the first in the investigation, was scheduled to begin in
January with five of the 17 named in the indictment.

Of those charged so far, six defendants are held in New York, three others
are held abroad and eight are fugitives, including bin Laden, who is on the
FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.

The U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward for the capture of
each fugitive.

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