Suspect in 1998 bombing of US embassy in Tanzania won't face death penalty

Saturday, October 4, 2008

An FBI photo of Ghailani

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has denied military prosecutors the chance to charge Ahmed Kalfan Ghailani - a suspect imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba over alleged involvement in the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Tanzania - with crimes that carry the death penalty. His trial for war crimes at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base will instead be for charges with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Should Ghailani face the death penalty?

DoD legal head Susan Crawford, who reviews each case, approved proceedings which were filed in March but refused to allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty. She did not reveal the reasoning behind these decisions.

The bombing he is alleged to have taken part in was one of a pair, the other being against the US embassy in Kenya. The suicide truck bombings killed 220 people and injured 4,000. It is alleged Ghailani acquired and transported the explosives al-Qaeda used in the attack in Tanzania, and that he and a bomber inspected the embassy together before the attack. Eleven of the fatalities and 85 of the injuries were in Tanzania.

He is charged with murder, attacking civilians and civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destroying property, terrorism and providing material support to terrorism, all in violation of the laws of war. He admits to purchasing the TNT used and a mobile phone used by another attacker and being present when the truck was bought. However, he denies knowing that the embassy was the target.

He was captured in Pakistan in 2004 and transferred to Guantanamo in 2006. The following year he faced a hearing to prove he was an enemy combatant, at which he made his confessions.