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US dismisses criminal charges against bin Laden

Posted by on June 18, 2011 0 Comment

New York: Federal authorities dropped terrorism charges against Osama bin Laden in court papers filed on Friday, formally ending a case against the slain al Qaeda leader that began with hopes of seeing him brought to justice in a civilian court.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan approved a request made by federal prosecutors to dismiss the charges – a procedural move that’s routine when defendants under indictment die.

The al Qaeda leader was indicted in June 1998 in federal court in Manhattan on charges he supported the ambush that left 18 American soldiers dead in Somalia in 1993. The indictment was originally filed under seal but was made public later that year.

The indictment was later revised to charge bin Laden in the dual bombings of two American embassies in East Africa that killed 224 on Aug 7, 1998, and in the suicide attack on the USS Cole in 2000. None of the charges involved the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Also named as a defendant was Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian eye doctor and longtime bin Laden deputy who has become al Qaeda’s new leader.

The charges included conspiracy to kill US nationals, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against US nationals and conspiracy to damage and destroy US property.

Around the time the charges were first filed, the CIA’s bin Laden unit was pursuing a plan to use Afghan operatives to capture bin Laden and hand him over for trial either in the United States or in an Arab country, according to the 9/11 Commission. Bin Laden evaded capture for more than a decade until May 2, when he was killed during a Navy SEALs raid of his compound in Pakistan.

The court papers filed on Friday included a declaration by a Justice Department official detailing the DNA, facial recognition and other evidence confirming bin Laden’s identity.

“The possibility of a mistaken identification is approximately one in 11.8 quadrillion,” the official wrote.

The document also makes a passing reference to a “significant quantity” of terrorist network material recovered during the raid, including “correspondence between Osama bin Laden and other senior al Qaeda leaders that concerns a range of al Qaeda issues.” Agencies

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