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An Egyptian man pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to playing a role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that introduced al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to most Americans for the first time.
But in an unusual development, the judge asked for more information and withheld formal acceptance of the plea.
The attacks, in Kenya and Tanzania, killed 224 people. Most of the victims were Kenyans; 12 were Americans.
Adel Abdel Bary, now 54, was accused of helping plan the bombings. He was detained in the United Kingdom shortly after the attacks and was extradited to the United States two years ago to face the charges. Prosecutors said Bary led a London cell of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, obtaining fake travel documents for members and delivering messages. The FBI said Bary received a statement issued three days before the bombings by Egyptian Islamic Jihad, threatening to retaliate against the United States.
A trial begins in federal court in New York next month for two other men charged with the bombings. One of them, Anas al-Libi, was captured by American commandos last year in a daring raid in Tripoli, Libya. Al-Libi is accused of conducting surveillance of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. His lawyer has told the judge in the case that al-Libi is terminally ill.
Five other bomb plotters have been convicted and are serving life sentences in prison. The most prominent of those charged but yet to be captured, Ayman al-Zawahri, assumed command of the core of al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces in 2011.