Accused al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Anas al-Liby, who has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, made self-incriminating statements after his arrest, the U.S. said.
U.S. forces captured al-Liby in Libya on Oct. 5 outside his home in Tripoli and held him on a U.S. naval vessel in the Mediterranean, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Al-Liby was transferred to U.S. civilian custody on Oct. 12, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
After he was advised of his rights by U.S. civilian investigators, al-Liby made “inculpatory Mirandized statements,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin told a court today without providing more details.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, who is presiding over the case, today appointed Bernard Kleinman to represent al-Liby to replace lawyers with the Federal Defenders office, after they informed him they had a conflict of interest. The lawyers said they’d represented a co-defendant convicted of helping carrying out the 1998 bombings of the embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.
Prosecutors today told Kaplan they have concerns that Kleinman may also have conflicts in representing al-Liby, noting that he represents Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.
The U.S. has alleged that Yousef, who is serving a life prison term after being found guilty of that attack as well as a foiled plot to bomb jetliners, spent time in Afghanistan before coming to New York. His uncle is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was charged with Yousef in the jetliner plot and is awaiting trial before a military judge Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on charges he helped plot the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Prosecutors have also said Yousef fled New York and stayed at a safe house sponsored by al-Qaeda after the 1993 attack.
“The government believes that there are potential conflicts that may warrant further inquiry,” Lewin said at a hearing today. “Mr. Kleinman represented and continues to represent Ramzi Yousef, who was potentially present in the same small geographic region in 1992 as the defendant.”
Lewin said the U.S. also had concerns about who was paying for Kleinman, who he said was hired to act as al-Liby’s lawyer by an unidentified “third party.” Lewin said Kleinman also currently represents an alleged terrorist currently being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Kaplan said today that prosecutors have asked to delay the trial of two codefendants also charged in the embassy attacks so that al-Liby can be tried at the same time. Those two men, Khalid al-Fawwaz, an alleged former associate of Osama bin Laden, and Adel Abdel Bary, accused of obtaining fake travel documents for co-conspirators in the embassy attacks, are currently scheduled to go to trial on April 7. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Kaplan said he won’t make any decision on a joint trial until at least December after hearing from lawyers for Abdel Bary and al-Fawwaz.
The embassy bombings killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Five other people were convicted at separate trials in 2001 and 2010 in New York on charges tied to the embassy attacks and sentenced to life in prison.
The case is U.S. v. Hage, 98-cr-01023, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in federal court in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Farr at email@example.com