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Pentagon Files Charges in 1998 US Embassy Bombing

The U.S. Defense Department has charged an alleged member of the al-Qaida terrorist organization with helping to plan and carryout the deadly 1998 bombing of the American embassy in Tanzania. VOA Correspondent Meredith Buel has details from Washington.

The military has charged Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani with murder and terrorism in the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam that killed 11 people and injured hundreds.

In announcing the nine charges, Brigadier General Thomas Hartman said the suspect helped with many aspects of the suicide attack.

"Purchasing TNT, detonators, and detonation cord on repeated occasions and transporting bomb components to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Moving the bomb components to various safe houses in and around Dar es Salaam. Assisting in the purchase of the truck used in the bombing. Scouting the American embassy in Tanzania with the suicide bomb driver."

Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the bombing and a nearly simultaneous attack on the U.S. embassy in Kenya.

A Pentagon legal official must still approve the charges against Ghailani before the suspect can be tried.

Ghailani, a Tanzanian, could face the death penalty if he is convicted by a military tribunal at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

General Hartman says Ghailani escaped to Karachi, Pakistan the day before the attack and was arrested in that South Asian nation in 2004.

Hartman says the suspect continued to work for al-Qaida following the bombing.

"The charge sheet alleges that after the bombing Mr. Galani continued in his service to al-Qaida in a variety of ways, including as a document forger and physical trainer at an al-Qaida training camp and as a body guard for Osama bin Laden," said Hartman.

According to a transcript released by the Pentagon last year, Ghailani told a panel of military officers at Guantanamo he is sorry for what happened to the families who lost their friends and loved ones in the embassy bombing.

The transcript quotes Ghailani as admitting to supplying the equipment used in the attack, but said he did not know the materials would be used to bomb the embassy.