U.S. v. Bin Laden

Citation92 F.Supp.2d 225
Decision Date15 March 2000
Docket NumberNo. S(6) 98 CRIM. 1023 (LBS).,S(6) 98 CRIM. 1023 (LBS).
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, v. Usama BIN LADEN, a/k/a "Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin," a/k/a "Shaykh Usamah Bin-Ladin," a/k/a "Abu Abdullah," a/k/a "Mujahid Shaykh," a/k/a "Hajj," a/k/a "al Qaqa," a/k/a "the Director," a/k/a "the Supervisor," Muhammad Atef, a/k/a "Abu Hafs," a/k/a "Abu Hafs el Masry," a/k/a "Abu Hafs el Masry el Khabir," a/k/a "Taysir," a/k/a "Sheikh Taysir Abdullah," a/k/a "Abu Fatimah," Ayman al Zawahiri, a/k/a "Abdel Muaz," a/k/a "Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri," a/k/a "the Doctor," Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, a/k/a "Abu Hajer al Iraqi," a/k/a "Abu Hajer," Khaled al Fawwaz, a/k/a "Khaled Abdul Rahman Hamad al Fawwaz," a/k/a "Abu Omar," a/k/a "Hamad," Ali Mohamed, a/k/a "Ali Abdelseoud Mohamed," a/k/a "Abu Omar," a/k/a "Omar," a/k/a "Haydara," a/k/a "Taymour Ali Nasser," a/k/a "Ahmed Bahaa Eldin Mohamed Adam," Wadih El Hage, a/k/a "Abdus Sabbur," a/k/a "Abd al Sabbur," a/k/a "Wadia," a/k/a "Abu Abdullah al Lubnani," a/k/a "Norman," a/k/a "Wa'da Norman," Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a/k/a "Harun," a/k/a "Harun Fazhl," a/k/a "Fazhl Abdullah," a/k/a "Fazhl Khan," Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, a/k/a "Abu Moath," a/k/a "Noureldine," a/k/a "Marwan," a/k/a "Hydar," a/k/a "Abdullbast Awadah," a/k/a "Abdulbasit Awadh Mbarak Assayid," Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-`Owhali, a/k/a "Khalid Salim Saleh Bin Rashed," a/k/a "Moath," a/k/a "Abdul Jabbar Ali Abdel-Latif," Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil, a/k/a "Mustafa Ali Elbishy," a/k/a "Hussein," a/k/a "Hussein Ali," Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, a/k/a "Khalfan Khamis," Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a/k/a "Fupi," a/k/a "Abubakary Khalfan Ahmed Ghailani," a/k/a "Abubakar Khalfan Ahmed," Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam, a/k/a "Fahad M. Ally," Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, a/k/a "Sheikh Bahamadi," a/k/a "Ahmed Ally," Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of New York

Mary Jo White, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, New York City, Kenneth Karas, Patrick Fitzgerald, Michael J. Garcia, Paul Butler, Assistant United States Attorneys.

Paul McAllister, Charles D. Adler, George Goltzer, New York City, for defendant Salim.

James Roth, Lloyd Epstein, New York City, for defendant Mohamed.

Samuel Schmidt, Joshua Dratel, Deborah I. Meyer, New York City, for defendant El Hage.

Michael Young, Carl J. Herman, Sandra L. Babcock, New York City, for defendant Odeh.

Leonard Joy, Robert Tucker, Mark Gombiner, David Bruck, New York City, for defendant Al-`Owhali.

Jeremy Schneider, David Stern, David Ruhnke, New York City, for defendant Khamis Mohamed.


SAND, District Judge.

Defendants are charged with numerous offenses arising out of their alleged involvement with an international terrorist organization led by Defendant Usama Bin Laden ("Bin Laden"). Presently before the Court are four motions, filed by Defendants Wadih El Hage ("El Hage"), Mamdouh Mahmud Salim ("Salim"), Mohamed Sadeek Odeh ("Odeh"), and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed ("K.K.Mohamed") seeking an order compelling the Government to file a bill of particulars that is responsive to over 150 separate requests for information. For the reasons set forth below, those motions are granted in part and denied in part. The Government is ordered to file a bill of particulars, but that bill need only be responsive to those specific requests that we identify below.


The indictment presently before the Court, S(6) 98 Cr. 1023(LBS) (the "Indictment"), charges the 15 named Defendants with 267 discrete criminal offenses. Eleven of the Defendants (all except Salim, Khaled Al Fawwaz ("Al Fawwaz"), Ali Mohammed, and El Hage) are charged with 229 counts of murder (see id. at ¶¶ 40-59), as well as nine other substantive offenses1 (see id. at ¶¶ 32-39, 56-65), based on the August, 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Defendant El Hage is charged with twenty counts of perjury before a federal grand jury and three counts of making false statements to special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). (See id. at ¶¶ 66-96.)

Each of the Defendants is also charged with participating in at least five distinct criminal conspiracies; El Hage and Ali Mohamed are accused of participating in six. (See id. at ¶¶ 10-31.) Although each conspiracy is charged under a different provision of the federal criminal code,2 the allegations overlap to a significant degree. The six conspiracies are, for the most part, alleged to have had the same four criminal objectives: (1) murder of United States nationals; (2) killing of United States military personnel serving in Somalia and on the Saudi Arabian peninsula; (3) killing of United States nationals employed at the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and (4) concealment of the conspirators' activities through the use of front companies, false identity and travel documents, coded correspondence, and by providing false information to authorities. (See id. at ¶¶ 11, 15, 19.)3 All but one4 of the conspiracies are alleged to have been furthered by the commission of the same set of 144 overt acts. (See id. at ¶ 12.)

In a section labeled, "Background," the Indictment explains that the charges arise out of the Defendants' alleged involvement with a vast, international terrorist network known as "al Qaeda," or "the Base." (See id. at ¶ 1.) According to the Indictment, al Qaeda emerged in 1989, under the leadership of Bin Laden and his two chief military commanders, Defendant Muhammad Atef ("Atef") and the now-deceased, Abu Ubaida al Banshiri ("Abu Ubaidah"), replacing a predecessor organization known as "mekhtab al khidemat," or the "Services Organization." (Id. at ¶ 1, 6-7.) Members of al Qaeda "pledged an oath of allegiance (called a `bayat') to Bin Laden and al Qaeda." (Id. at ¶ 1.) The group was allegedly headquartered in Afghanistan from 1989 until 1991, at which time it re-located to the Sudan, ultimately returning to Afghanistan in 1996. (See id.) According to the Indictment, al Qaeda functioned both on its own and in conjunction with other groups — such as the "al Jihad" organization in Egypt, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman's5 "Islamic Group," the Iranian terrorist group, Hezballah, and the Sudanese National Islamic Front — that shared its strong opposition to the United States and a willingness to use violent, terrorist tactics in furtherance of their shared goals. (See id. at ¶¶ 2, 4-5, 8.)6

The Indictment's core factual allegations are set forth in a 31-page section that appears under the heading "Overt Acts." (See id. at ¶ 12.) Without re-stating the entire litany of acts alleged therein, it is fair to say that the basic pattern that emerges is one in which al Qaeda, over a period of at least ten years, is said to have organized, financed, inspired, and generally facilitated a variety of violent attacks against United States personnel and property abroad. Some of the overt acts set forth in the Indictment, such as detonation of the explosives that destroyed the American embassies, are plainly violent acts in and of themselves. But many of the overt acts alleged consist of seemingly non-criminal conduct — such as writing letters, traveling, and engaging in business transactions — which, according to the Indictment, facilitated the violent attacks and thereby constitute overt acts in furtherance of the charged conspiracies.

A. The Organization

The Indictment alleges that beginning at least in 1989, al Qaeda established "training camps" and "guesthouses" in various areas around the world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya. (See id. at ¶ 12a.) Al Qaeda members and the members of affiliated groups allegedly received military7 and intelligence training in those camps under the direction of Defendant Ali Mohamed and others. (Id. at ¶ 12c). Defendant Salim allegedly managed some of the camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (See id. at ¶ 12a).

The camps were allegedly operated under the auspices of a series of business established by Bin Laden, Salim, and others. (Id. at ¶ 12d.) The businesses were used to engage in activities such as purchasing land, warehouses, and equipment for the camps; and for transporting currency and weapons8 to al Qaeda members "in various countries throughout the world." (Id.)

Assistance from American citizens was allegedly essential to al Qaeda's operation. Two of the Defendants, Ali Mohamed and El Hage, both American citizens, are accused of assisting the organization by traveling "throughout the Western world to deliver messages and engage in financial transactions for the benefit of al Qaeda...." (Id. at ¶ 12b.) According to the Indictment, Ali Mohamed and El Hage exchanged messages with each other, and with other co-conspirators, through letters (see id. at ¶¶ 12tt, 12uu, 12uuu, 12bbbb, 12gggg) and visits (see id. at ¶¶ 12xx), regarding al Qaeda activities and the whereabouts of al Qaeda leaders (see id. at ¶¶ 12zz, 12nnn-12ttt, 12xxx, 12bbbb).

B. The Fatwahs and Declarations of Jihad

In addition to providing military and intelligence training, obtaining weapons, establishing base camps, and coordinating the work of various members around the globe, al Qaeda allegedly facilitated violent attacks on United States interests by providing religious authority for those attacks. From time to time, according to the Indictment, Bin Laden would issue rulings on Islamic law, called "fatwahs," which purported to justify al Qaeda's violent activities. Defendant Salim is accused of supplementing these efforts by allegedly lecturing other members about the appropriateness under Islamic law of engaging "in violent actions against `infidels.'" (See id. at ¶ 12aa.) Defendant Al Fawwaz, working out of at Qaeda's London office9 (which he allegedly established in 1994 (see id. at ¶ 12qq)), would distribute Bin Laden's messages around the globe. (See id. at 12iii.)

The Indictment identifies a number of fatwahs allegedly issued by...

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