Kenya Terror Suspects’ Charges Reduced
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Kenyan authorities dropped murder charges against three terror suspects Friday and instead charged them with conspiracy to commit a felony for their alleged roles in three al-Qaida attacks and a foiled plot to destroy the U.S. Embassy.
Prosecutor John Gacivih said the charges against the three suspects _ Said Saggar Ahmed, Salmin Mohammed Khamis and Kubwa Mohammed Seif _ were reduced because the case against them for murder was not strong enough.
They are charged in four cases: the bombing of a hotel on the Kenyan coast last Nov. 28, which killed 15 people, including three Israeli tourists; a nearly simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner; an alleged plot to destroy the new U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in June; and the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which killed 219 people, including 12 Americans.
All three pleaded innocent to the new charges on Friday after being taken from the High Court to a magistrate’s court.
The foiled June plot to attack the U.S. Embassy with a car bomb and small aircraft was first revealed in an Associated Press story last month.
At least one of the suspects, Khamis, reportedly admitted taking part in the plot to destroy the new embassy shortly after he was arrested in June. The evidence against the other men was not immediately clear.
Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror network claimed responsibility for the attacks in November 2002 as well as the August 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi and in Dar es Salaam.
The men were among nine originally charged in the hotel bombing. Murder charges were also dropped against two other suspects _ Faiz Abdalla Sharrif and Mohammed Ali Hassan.
Gacivih had insisted there was enough evidence to convict all nine Kenyan suspects for murder, and the pretrial statements detail a wealth of circumstantial evidence linking six of the suspects to the deadly bombing.
One of the defense attorneys, Moabe Mao, has called the case ``entirely circumstantial″ and said there was no physical evidence linking the defendants to the bombing, suggesting the men were charged because of pressure from the United States.