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The BBC's Ishbel Matheson
"Hundreds are still suffering the physical and psychological injuries inflicted by the attack"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
Taleban condemn bombing verdicts
Embassy bombing
224 people were killed in the bombs
Afghanistan's ruling Taleban militia have criticised as "unfair" the convictions in New York of four men over the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

They also vowed not to hand over "under any circumstances" Osama bin Laden, the Saudi millionaire and alleged mastermind behind the attacks, who is living in Afghanistan

Abdul Anan Himat, a senior official at the Taliban information ministry, said: "He is a great holy warrior of Islam and a great benefactor of the Afghan people."

Prosecutors in the US are now seeking the death penalty for two of the men convicted of bombing the embassies in 1998, in which 224 people died.

Death penalty

Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali, 24, and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, were both found guilty by a court in New York of murdering 224 people, including 12 Americans in the bombings.

Defendants
The four men are believed to be followers of Osama bin Laden
The men were convicted alongside Wadih al-Hage, 40, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 36, who now face life imprisonment for their involvement with the attacks

A trial will begin on Wednesday to determine whether Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali will face the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.

Lawyers say that hearing evidence in the case will take at least a week.

After the jury has reached a decision on al-'Owhali, a second hearing will take place to decide Khalfan Khamis Mohamed's fate.

'Most wanted'

The Manhattan jury took 12 days to find the men guilty on all 302 counts against them.

All four men denied the bombing charges but FBI agents testified that two of them admitted their crimes in confessions.

Mr bin Laden has been indicted in America on charges related to the bombings. He is also on America's "Most Wanted" list with $5m on offer to anyone who helps in his arrest.

However, he is protected while under the jurisdiction of the Taleban in Afghanistan.

The Taleban say that Mr bin Laden is a hero of the jihad against the armies of the Soviet Union which occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Edith Bartley (L) leads Clara Aliganda (R) away from the media
Relatives of victims wept as the verdicts were read out
Officials were pleased by the convictions.

"These verdicts are a triumph for world justice and for world unity in combating international terrorism," said attorney Mary Jo White, whose office led the prosecution.

Mixed reaction

There was a mixed reaction from relatives of the victims.

"I am very happy, justice has been done... these people should not be let go without severe punishment," said Charles Abiud, who was in a building that collapsed when the bomb exploded at the Nairobi embassy next door.

Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden: threatened holy war

"It won't erase the grief and feeling of loss," said Edith Bartley, whose father and brother died in the bombing in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mary Olds, who lost her daughter Shirley in the bombing, spoke of the need to bring Mr bin Laden to justice.

"It is not over," she said.

"If we do not deal with the main person we will be dealing with him for years to come."

Tourist warning

Her sentiments were echoed by the director of the FBI's New York office, Barry Mawn.

"Much remains to be done," he said.

Hours after the verdicts, the State Department urged Americans overseas to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take steps to increase their security awareness.

The statement was a reaffirmation of a 11 May warning that American citizens abroad may be the target of a terrorist threat from extremist groups with links to Mr bin Laden.

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See also:

30 May 01 | Americas
Jury deliberates bombing sentence
30 May 01 | Americas
Embassy bomb victims still suffering
29 May 01 | Americas
US embassy bombing four convicted
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