U.S. Ends Evidence in Trial of Bin Laden’s Alleged Aide

U.S. prosecutors rested their case against a Saudi Arabian man on trial for helping Osama bin Laden publicize threats after presenting testimony from an American army officer about an al-Qaeda membership list recovered in Afghanistan in 2001.

Khalid al-Fawwaz, 52, allegedly described as Number 9 on that list, is accused of working personally for bin Laden for years, serving first as a terrorist training camp instructor, then as an al-Qaeda cell leader in East Africa. Prosecutors said he then moved to London and was involved in a plot to kill Americans that included the twin bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Sergeant Major David Karnes, an intelligence officer who was with the first U.S. forces to enter Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, told jurors Thursday that he and his staff searched offices and buildings in and around Kandahar, including a home where bin Laden had lived. Eventually they found a trove of materials that included handwritten notes, documents, files, CDs, maps and other material tied to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, he said.

“We were operating with a Special Forces team and with other indigenous forces, such as Pashtun tribesmen and Afghanis,” Karnes told a federal jury in Manhattan. “Our first goal was to regain a foothold in Kandahar. Our second objective was to find, fix, finish, kill or capture senior al-Qaeda members in or near Kandahar.”

After 37 raids and searches in 45 days, Karnes, who is fluent in Arabic, quickly reviewed the documents in a top secret area to evaluate what information should be given to U.S. military in Afghanistan and what should be further reviewed by U.S. intelligence officers.

Steel Footlocker

A steel footlocker he labeled “important al-Qaeda material” and filled with documents that included the al-Qaeda list, was sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Islamabad, Pakistan, he said. Days later, a Gulfstream V jet the FBI dispatched delivered the material to Washington, an FBI agent has testified.

Asked by prosecutor Adam Fee if he was able to read each and every document or keep the materials separated based on where they were found, Karnes said it was impossible.

“We were in the middle of combat,” he said.

Prosecutors said the list, which is in Arabic, names bin Laden as Number 1, includes other top founders, and has the notation “Top Secret” at the top.

Al-Fawwaz has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer has said he didn’t share bin Laden’s views or participate in any conspiracy to kill Americans. His defense team will begin presenting evidence when the trial resumes on Tuesday, his lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, told U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan Thursday.

The case is U.S. v. Al-Fawwaz, 98-cr-01023, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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