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Bin Laden associate indicted

The United States on Wednesday handed down an indictment against an exiled Saudi engineer that prosecutors describe as one of bin Laden’s key lieutenants.
/ Source: NBC News producer

In the latest development in the ongoing pursuit of alleged terrorist ringleader Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network, the United States on Wednesday handed down an indictment against an exiled Saudi engineer that prosecutors describe as one of bin Laden’s key lieutenants. The engineer, Khalid al-Fauwaz, was being held by authorities in Britain pending extradition to face charges of involvement in last August’s embassy bombings in East Africa.

AMERICAN PROSECUTORS charge that al Fauwaz was a conduit for information and material used in for the East Africa embassy bombings, which killed over 200 people in Nairobi and the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, last August.

Al-Fauwaz was arrested in London last September. The U.S. believes that anti-Americanism fueled his participation in the East Africa bombings. In a filing with British court last November, the U.S. Justice Department claimed to have “evidence directly linking al Fauwaz with the East Africa cell of al-Qaeda that carried out the attack on the American embassies.”

NBC News also has learned from sources close to the investigation that bin Laden received both regular mail and email through the London branch of an organization called the Advice and Reformation Committee, ARC, that was headed by al-Fauwaz and founded by bin Laden.

InsertArt(1202164)U.S. officials, in fact, charge that bin Laden placed al-Fauwaz in London in 1994 after a meeting of his terrorist high command in Khartoum, a meeting al-Fauwaz himself attended. Moreover, subsequent to that, ARC set up operations in both Denver and Kansas City, both of which maintained phone lines and post office boxes.

As the committee’s London director, Al-Fauwaz is believed to be a conduit for several “cells” of bin Laden’s al Qaeda terror network, possibly including some in the United States. The United States fired Tomahawk missiles at bin Laden’s alleged Afghan training bases and at a Sudanese factory allegedly connected to his network in retaliation for the embassy bombings, which killed 12 Americans and over 200 Kenyans, Tanzanians and other African nationals.

Prior to his arrest, he told NBC News in an interview that he had no direct contact with bin Laden for several years.

“Well, unfortunately I lost contact, direct contact with him several years ago ... just after he moved from Sudan, we lost direct contact,” he said.

However, he said that he felt he had good reason to be angry at Americans.

“They are quite handy with vast destruction to humanity,” said Al Fauwaz. “They added to their career, a number of-of crimes against Muslims inparticular. They either directly or indirectly participated in crimes against us. There is no question now, in the Muslim world, from the extreme right to the extreme left, that Americans are, if not enemies, at least, acting like enemies.”

US officials claim otherwise.

Al-Fauwaz was arrested on September 23 by London police on an arrest warrant filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in New York that wanted him for allegedly conspiring with bin Laden conspired and others to murder U.S. nationals.

A British court approved the extradition in December but al-Fauwaz has yet to exhaust his appeals. U.S. authorities also contend that bin Laden directed al-Fauwaz to distribute three fatwas over the past two years calling for Muslims to kill U.S. nationals and otherwise used al-Fauwaz “as a means of disseminating calls for attacks on American targets.”

NBC’s Robert Windrem is an investigative producer based in New York.