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Embassy Bombing Defendant Admits Attempting to Murder Prison Guard - 2002-04-04

A man charged in connection with the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, Mamdouh Mahmoud Salim has pleaded guilty to trying to murder a guard in a New York prison.

Mr. Salim was supposed to stand trial with four other defendants accused in the embassy bombings, which claimed more than 220 lives.

But in November 2000, two months before the trial began, Mr. Salim was charged with a brutal attack on prison guard Louis Pepe. He stabbed the guard in the eyes with the sharpened edges of a comb, causing brain damage.

Mr. Salim was severed from the embassy bombings trial and was scheduled to go trial next week for the attack on Mr. Pepe. But now he has pleaded guilty, telling the judge "I agreed with another person to murder Officer Pepe."

Prosecutors say the other person was Khalfan Khamis Mohammed, who is serving life in prison for his role in the embassy bombings.

Salim will be sentenced in August. He faces life in prison plus twenty years. Salim's lawyer, Richard Lind, says he hopes the guilty plea will reduce his client's prison term.

"We are obviously going to advocate that he get less than a life term imprisonment," he said. "The government obviously will be seeking a life term, but there is some room, we believe, for him to get less than life."

Mr. Salim, a Sudanese, still faces prosecution for his role in the embassy bombings, although a date for that trial has not yet been set. He is said to have been a top aid to Osama bin Laden, who prosecutors say was behind the 1998 bombings.