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3 Charged for U.S. Embassy Bomb Attempt

December 16, 2003

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Three men were charged Tuesday in the attempted bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon a week ago.

Two of the suspects were identified as Abed Mreish and Mehdi al-Hajj Hasan, both Lebanese, and the third as Ibrahim Serhal, a Palestinian.

Mreish and Serhal were arrested Dec. 10 outside the embassy in Aukar, a district north of Beirut. According to the allegations, Mreish was carrying a suitcase packed with two pounds of explosives and Serhal was posing as his taxi driver.

Hasan was detained two days later and is alleged to have ordered the attack.

Judicial officials said the indictment charges the three with attempting to carry explosives into the embassy and forming a terrorist group. If convicted, the men could be sentenced to a maximum penalty of life in prison with hard labor.

Security has been tight at the embassy in Lebanon since the 1980s, when suicide bombers carried out two attacks on embassy buildings.

The State Department has warned Americans in Lebanon to be on their guard against attacks because of tension and anti-American rhetoric in the Middle East.

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