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Tanzania Suspect Admits Terror Link

October 1, 1998

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) _ A man charged in the U.S. Embassy bombing in Tanzania has confessed to having links to Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the attacks here and in neighboring Kenya, a senior government official said Thursday.

Home Affairs Minister Ali Ameir Mohamed told The Associated Press that Mustafa Mahmoud Said Ahmed, one of two men charged in the Dar es Salaam bombing, also said he knew two men charged in a federal court in New York for the Nairobi bombing.

``Mustafa (Ahmed) is either the mastermind behind the (Tanzania) bombing or is a key person in the bombing conspiracy,″ Ameir said.

Ameir said Ahmed, an Egyptian with passports from Yemen, Congo and Iraq, admitted that he had warned Kenyan intelligence officials about the plot to bomb the U.S. embassies. He said Ahmed said the Kenyans then told the CIA.

Ameir said he believed the Egyptian, whom he called ``wily and elusive,″ was not telling investigators everything he knew about the bombings.

Ahmed and Rashid Saleh Hemed, a Tanzanian from Zanzibar, were formally charged Sept. 21 with 11 counts of murder in the Aug. 7 blast. A simultaneous blast at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi killed 248 people. The explosions injured 5,500 others, mostly in Kenya.

Ameir said investigators were uncovering more and more information linking the two embassy bombings and contacts in the Middle East, but he did not give details.

He said Ahmed admitted that he knew bin Laden, a Saudi exile who from Afghanistan allegedly runs al-Qaeda, or ``the base″ in Arabic _ a radical Islamic network accused of orchestrating the bombings.

The two suspects in New York _ Mohamed Sadeek Odeh and Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-’Owhali _ are also linked to bin Laden.

In addition, Ameir said, Tanzanian and U.S. investigators believe the funds to finance the Dar es Salaam bombing were transferred from the Middle East to an account in the Saudi-financed Greenland Bank of Tanzania Ltd., which also has branches in Kampala and Nairobi.

The account was in Hemed’s name.

Ameir said the Greenland Bank in Nairobi was also suspected of having been used for transferring funds that financed the Nairobi bombing.

``A lot of fingers, a lot of leads, point to the Middle East,″ Ameir said.

Two other suspects, who investigators believe were staying at Ahmed’s home, are being sought in the Tanzanian bombing.

They allegedly supplied the Egyptian with a Suzuki car that was used to transport ingredients of the bomb. Investigators found traces of chemicals used to make bombs in the car and in his home, Ameir said.

He said investigators had also determined that a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, whose chassis had been modified, carried the bomb into the grounds of the embassy. The chassis was all that remained of the vehicle.

Ameir said witness told police that two men ``of Arab origin″ were seen in a car idling outside the embassy shortly before the bomb went off.

He said investigators believe the people inside the car may have detonated the bomb using a remote control.

Update hourly