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Bombing Suspect Fails to Confess

October 14, 1998

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) _ An Egyptian charged in the Aug. 7 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania has provided investigators with a lot of information but has been less than forthcoming about his role in the blast, sources close to the investigation say.

Mustafa Mahmoud Said Ahmed was charged on Sept. 21 together with Rashid Saleh Hemed, a Tanzanian man also accused of murder in the bombing that killed 11 people, all Africans.

Investigators say Ahmed also is suspected in a nearly simultaneous blast outside the U.S. Embassy in neighboring Kenya that killed 213 people, including 12 Americans.

Ahmed has told investigators that he volunteered information on the Nairobi bombing a day after the attack to the British High Commission as well as the FBI and Tanzania’s State Security agents. But he has denied having any information on or involvement in the Dar es Salaam bombing.

One source close to the investigation, who asked not to be further identified, said that Ahmed seemed to know much more about international terrorism than an ordinary person would.

Investigators say Ahmed and two men who are fugitives visited Tomy Spades Manufacturing in Dar es Salaam to inspect progress on the building of a gas cylinder that may have been part of the explosive device that blew up the embassy.

In an interview Tuesday, Home Affairs Minister Ali Ameir Mohamed likened Ahmed to a chameleon.

``He shows you a certain color, but ultimately you find it is not his true color,″ he said.

Ameir also dismissed a report in the current issue of Newsweek magazine that members of Saudi businessman Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist group posing as U.S. informants had gone to both embassies with phony bomb warnings to learn how their security systems would react.

``Such information would definitely have been passed on to me by my assistants, but as it happens, I had no infomation of that kind at all,″ he said.

The FBI has linked bin Laden and Al Qaeda to both bombings.

Other sources close to the investigation said security at the Dar es Salaam embassy was not high and that the bombing had, in fact, caught security personnel off guard.

Ameir said the investigation has slowed down because the FBI has changed its team of agents in Tanzania.

But he did say investigators have determined that the vehicle that carried the bomb into the embassy compound was a two-ton Japanese-made truck purchased from Jaba Tanzania Ltd., a local firm that specializes in secondhand vehicles.

Initial reports indicated the bomb could have been carried on a water tanker truck that periodically distributed water to the embassy and homes in the residential neighborhood.

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