A Guantanamo Bay detainee indicted in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa arrived in New York on Tuesday to face criminal charges.
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is the first detainee held at Guantanamo to be transferred to the United States to face criminal prosecution. The Tanzanian national has been held at the camp in Cuba since September 2006. Ghailani’s arrival in New York comes amid mounting tension between Congress and President Obama over the planned closing of Guantanamo. The 1998 embassy attacks are among several crimes for which Ghailani has been indicted in New York. He was captured in Pakistan in 2004 and transported to Guantanamo two years later. In the 1998 bombings, 224 people were killed, including 12 Americans. Ghailani was transferred from the custody of the Defense Department to the Southern District of New York by the U.S. Marshals Service. He was in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, which has housed numerous terrorism suspects over the years, and was expected to make his initial appearance in Manhattan federal court later Tuesday, according to the Justice Department.
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Ghailani faces 286 counts in the indictment against him. Among other alleged crimes, Ghailani is accused of conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill Americans anywhere in the world. He also faces separate charges of murder for the deaths of each of the 224 people killed in the U.S. Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya and various other offenses related to the bombings. “With his appearance in federal court today, Ahmed Ghailani is being held accountable for his alleged role in the bombing of U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the murder of 224 people,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “The Justice Department has a long history of securely detaining and successfully prosecuting terror suspects through the criminal justice system, and we will bring that experience to bear in seeking justice in this case.”