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
"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."