An Al Qaeda operative was sentenced to life in prison Friday for his participation in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, authorities said.
Khalid al Fawwaz, a Saudi national, will likely join several of his co-conspirators at the federal "supermax" prison in Colorado, the country''s most restrictive prison and home to many convicted terrorists.
The sentence shuts the book on another of the 22 suspects whom American authorities believe participated in the simultaneous attacks, which killed hundreds of people and forced the name Al Qaeda into the American public's consciousness. Eight of the 22, including Osama bin Laden, have been killed. Seven have been convicted and sent to prison. Another is imprisoned but his whereabouts are unknown, and one is awaiting trial. Two have died while in custody.
The remaining three — al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahri, Saif al Adel and Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah — are still at large.
Fawwaz was charged with setting up an al Qaeda operation in London, which served as a conduit for messages between various terror group cells, including the one in Nairobi, to al Qaeda headquarters in Afghanistan. He was convicted earlier this year of several terrorism offenses related to the plots.
Massive truck bombs were detonated in coordinated attacks on Aug. 7, 1998, outside the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Nairobi attack killed more than 200 people, while the Tanzania attack killed 11.
Survivors of the bombings attended Friday's sentencing by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, authorities said.
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Fawwaz was one of bin Laden's top lieutenants and served as his "bridge to the West," arranging pre-9/11 media interviews and disseminating and disseminating bin Laden's 1998 fatwah directing followers to kill Americans.
"Fawwaz conspired with a murderous regime, and the result was a horrific toll of terror and death," Bharara said in a statement Friday. "The price he will pay, appropriately severe as it is, cannot possibly compensate his victims and their families."