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Press Release

Manhattan U.S. Attorney And Assistant Attorney General Announce Sentence Of Life In Prison For High-Ranking Al Qaeda Terrorist Convicted Of Conspiring To Kill Americans And Other Terrorism Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, announced today that KHALID AL FAWWAZ was sentenced to life in prison for multiple terrorism offenses relating to his participation in al Qaeda’s conspiracy to kill Americans. U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan imposed sentence on FAWWAZ, 52, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, in Manhattan federal court, at a proceeding attended by victims of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. FAWWAZ’s sentencing follows a six-week jury trial in January and February of this year, at which FAWWAZ was convicted of all four counts in which he was charged.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Khalid al Fawwaz, who played a critical role for al Qaeda in its murderous conspiracy against America, will now spend the rest of his life in a federal prison. As one of Osama bin Laden's original and most trusted lieutenants, Fawwaz led an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and a terrorist cell in Kenya before serving as bin Laden’s media adviser in London. Fawwaz was bin Laden's bridge to the West, facilitating interviews of bin Laden in Afghanistan by Western media and disseminating bin Laden's 1996 declaration of jihad against America and his 1998 fatwah directing followers to kill Americans anywhere in the world. To that end, on August 7, 1998, al Qaeda operatives bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, murdering 224 innocent people and wounding thousands more. Fawwaz conspired with a murderous regime, and the result was a horrific toll of terror and death. The price he will pay, appropriately severe as it is, cannot possibly compensate his victims and their families.”

Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said: “Fawwaz is a terrorist who for years served Usama bin Laden and held many positions within al Qaeda. With this sentence, he is being held accountable for his role in al-Qaeda's conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals worldwide during the 1990s. This case is a testament to our commitment to bringing to justice those who threaten the United States and our interests around in the world, no matter how long it may take.”

According to the evidence presented at trial:

During the early 1990s, FAWWAZ trained at al Qaeda’s Jawar military training camp in Afghanistan and then became the emir, or head, of al Qaeda’s al Siddiq military training camp in Afghanistan. In approximately 1993, FAWWAZ moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where he served as one of the leaders of the al Qaeda members there, during a time that al Qaeda was sending fighters through Nairobi to Somalia to fight, and to train Somalis to fight, United States and United Nations forces in Somalia. FAWWAZ was also a leader of al Qaeda in Nairobi when al Qaeda began its preparations to attack the United States Embassy there.

The evidence further showed that, in 1994, FAWWAZ began to act as Osama bin Laden’s media representative in London, England. FAWWAZ served as bin Laden’s conduit to Western media, screening requests for interviews of Bin Laden and facilitating travel to Afghanistan by journalists who were allowed to interview bin Laden. FAWWAZ also publicized bin Laden’s threats of violence against the United States. Among other things, FAWWAZ delivered bin Laden’s August 1996 Declaration of Jihad against the United States to a journalist for publication and helped arrange for the publication of a February 1998 fatwa, signed by bin Laden and others, that claimed it was the individual duty of every Muslim to kill Americans, civilian and military, in any country where it was possible to do so. In addition, FAWWAZ provided al Qaeda with advice about how best to disseminate to the West its message of terror, and helped obtain for al Qaeda items that were difficult to obtain in Afghanistan, such as generators, vehicles, and communications equipment. In addition, a list of al Qaeda members recovered in Kandahar, Afghanistan, by the United States military in late 2001 contained FAWWAZ’s alias, and had him numbered ninth on the list.

Following FAWWAZ’s arrest in England in September 1998, FAWWAZ challenged his extradition to the United States for over a decade. He arrived in the Southern District of New York in October 2012.

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FAWWAZ’s sentencing follows convictions for conspiring to kill United States nationals (Count One), conspiring to murder officers and employees of the United States (Count Three), conspiring to destroy buildings and property of the United States (Count Five), and conspiring to attack national defense utilities (Count Six). Counts One, Three, and Five each carried a maximum term of life in prison, and Count Six carried a maximum term of 10 years in prison.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and detectives from the New York City Police Department. Mr. Bharara also thanked the United States Marshals Service, the United States Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and the National Security Division for their efforts. Mr. Bharara additionally thanked New Scotland Yard for its cooperation in the investigation and prosecution.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean S. Buckley, Adam Fee, Nicholas J. Lewin, and Stephen J. Ritchin are in charge of the prosecution.


Updated May 21, 2015