Federal Bureau of Investigation
Director's Statement



 (202) 324-3691

  AUGUST 27, 1998

Director Louis J. Freeh of the Federal Bureau of Investigation today issued the following statement:

Today we are announcing that Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali has been brought to the United States to face charges in connection with the deadly terrorist bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Joining me here today are Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, and Mary Jo White, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Each has brief comments both about the significance of today's events relative to the security of the United States and about the international cooperation that made today possible.

Before we begin I would like to express special gratitude on behalf of the FBI and all American law enforcement for the extraordinary cooperation, assistance and professionalism of the Kenyan and Tanzanian law enforcement authorities. Seldom has such an international effort been so productive so quickly. From our perspective this stands out as a shining example not only of the importance of international law enforcement in the face of the global threat of terrorism but also of the immediate benefit that flows from true international cooperation, that cop-to-cop cooperation on the ground, at the scene of these horrendous crimes.

FBI Special Agents have brought the defendant from Kenya to New York City. A complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan a short time ago charged him with: murdering 12 Americans at the Embassy; conspiracy to commit murder; and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the bombing that killed over 250 persons, most of them Kenyans.

The complaint stated that the defendant was taken into custody by Kenyan officials, advised of his Miranda rights by FBI Special Agents, waived those rights, and then made this statement: "That he was trained in a number of camps in Afghanistan, including a number of camps affiliated with al Qaeda, an international terrorist group, led by Usama Bin Laden, dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence."

The defendant stated he was trained in explosives, hijacking, and kidnaping, the complaint said. It also said the defendant stated he attended conferences, meetings, and a press conference with Bin Laden, and was aware Bin Laden had signed a "fatwah" stating "it was proper to kill Americans worldwide."

The complaint said the defendant traveled with a co-conspirator to the Embassy on the day of the bombing in a vehicle containing an improvised explosive device, "...tossing a grenade-like device (which did not include fragmentation casing) at a guard stationed at the Embassy." It added: "The defendant also stated that the operation was supposed to be a martyrdom operation, which he did not expect to survive."

In addition, the complaint noted that because an FBI Special Agent submitted a sworn affidavit "for the limited purpose of establishing probable cause supporting the arrest of the defendant," the court filing does not include all facts learned during the course of the investigation.

Although the initial arrest indicates substantial progress in the 20 days since the bombing in Kenya, we are still at the initial stages of a far-reaching international investigation. I stress that the charges against the defendant are at this point only charges, that there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and that all of his legal and Constitutional rights will be fully protected. The rule of law is being upheld completely, by both the United States and Kenya.

The charges against the defendant were an excellent example of Federal and international cooperation. We deeply appreciate the splendid work of Kenyan authorities as well as the assistance of Tanzania and other governments. While the toll of Americans killed and injured in Kenya and Tanzania was tragic, we must remember that those two countries suffered even greater losses. The casualties in Kenya included over 250 persons killed, including 12 Americans, and more than 5,000 injured, including 13 Americans. In Tanzania, no Americans were killed but the death toll included 11 residents of that nation, and 86 were injured, including two Americans.

All three countries share grave losses. The suffering of Kenya and Tanzania was enormous, and they have our deepest sympathy and compassion. All three nations stand together in our efforts to bring those responsible to justice. We owe a debt of gratitude to the law enforcement officials of both African nations and to their Ambassadors to the United States: Ambassador Samson Kipkoech Chemai of Kenya, represented here today by his military attache, Colonel Maurice Otieno Oyugi, and Ambassador Mustafa Salim Nyang'anyi of Tanzania, who is also present here.

Last week, I visited both Kenya and Tanzania shortly after the bombings. I conferred at length with law enforcement officials of both countries as well as with officials of their Justice and Interior departments. We reached a decision to send this defendant to stand trial in the United States.

I worked closely with the leaders of the FBI teams in both nations--an FBI force that eventually totaled nearly 500 persons. They included more than 400 Special Agents and specialists--evidence experts, bomb technicians, and forensic and scientific personnel. There also was a cadre of skilled support employees.

There has been superb cooperation by all parts of the Federal government--including the State Department, Defense Department, Central Intelligence Agency, other parts of the intelligence community, the office of the National Security Advisor, and the FBI. Special notes of appreciation go to Secretary of Defense William Cohen and to George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence.

The Department of Defense has performed superbly in every way as a full partner in this complex investigation, and the successes to date could not have been achieved without its selfless and dedicated work. This investigation is also another example of the exceptionally close ties forged between the CIA and FBI on a broad range of the most important cases and issues. FBI Special Agents work in the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center, and CIA Agents work in the FBI Counter-Terrorism Section. The results include the extradition from other countries of persons charged in the World Trade Center bombing in New York and the attack on the CIA Headquarters--and their subsequent convictions.

In Kenya and Tanzania, I met with the regional security personnel assigned to both American embassies and I cannot find words to adequately express the FBI's appreciation to the Department of State for its assistance and cooperation.

I also wish to thank the FBI's New York Joint Terrorism Task Force for its work at the crime scenes, including outstanding efforts by New York City Police Department detectives, many of whom also greatly aided the FBI in the investigations of the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I also want to thank the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms of the Treasury Department for its support.

The FBI is grateful to the Congress and the Administration for their depth of vision in helping to formulate and fund growing anti-terrorism efforts. For the FBI, Congress has more than doubled the number of positions and more than tripled the funding for domestic anti-terrorism programs in the past four years. While budgets for international terrorism programs are classified for security reasons, Congress has been equally far-sighted in this area.

One example is the expansion of the FBI's Legal Attache program--Special Agents stationed abroad to work jointly with foreign governments against crimes that threaten Americans in other nations or threaten to invade the United States. The program is modest in size and cost but has produced remarkable dividends. The first FBI Special Agents on the scene at the two recent Embassy bombings in Eastern Africa were from Legal Attache offices in Egypt and South Africa. The FBI is certain the Senate and House will continue all aspects of its pattern of support for law enforcement efforts in foreign countries in the future.

All parts of the government know that terrorism means the murder of Americans, and that this crisis must be diminished and then eliminated. All parts of the Federal government are deeply committed to fighting terrorism, whether in the U.S. or abroad. The need for cooperation by all law-abiding nations against international terrorism and crime has never been greater. All law-abiding peoples benefit enormously from constant vigilance.

Within the FBI, Assistant Directors Lewis Schiliro of the New York Field Office and J.C. Carter of the Washington Field Office are performing particularly valuable leadership roles in the investigations of the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. There also are outstanding contributions by Thomas J. Pickard, Assistant Director in charge of the Criminal Investigative Division; John F. Lewis, Assistant Director in charge of the National Security Division; and Dr. Donald M. Kerr, Assistant Director in charge of the Laboratory Division.

Excellent work is being performed by Dale L. Watson, Deputy Assistant Director of the National Security Division; Special Agent in Charge-National Security Sheila W. Horan of the Washington Field Office, who is supervising FBI operations in Kenya; her deputy in Kenya, Assistant Special Agent in Charge-National Security Joseph Billy, Jr., of the New York Field Office; Kenneth R. Piernick, Assistant Special Agent in Charge-National Security of the Washington Field Office, who is supervising FBI operations in Tanzania; and Roger Allen Nisley, Special Agent in Charge of the Critical Incident Response Group.

Great credit also goes to hundreds of FBI Special Agents, including the Hostage Rescue Team and Swat Teams from a number of FBI Field Offices who have performed superbly. And the men and women at the FBI Operations Center at our Headquarters in Washington have worked day and night since the bombings.

This concludes my remarks and I would now like to introduce Attorney General Janet Reno.