The arrests followed "the most extensive overseas criminal investigation in [US] history", said the Attorney General, Janet Reno. "Today, we have results," she said.
Louis Freeh, the head of the FBI, said that the investigation was only just beginning. "We are still at the very initial stages of a far-reaching international investigation," he said at a press conference to mark the arrests. Ms Reno said that Osama bin Laden, the former Saudi financier whom the US suspects of masterminding the attacks, is "a primary subject of our current investigations".
Following swiftly the American missile strikes on Afghanistan and Sudan, the arrests demonstrate that the US wants to show that it can and will prosecute those who attack its citizens abroad. But the standards of proof required for a criminal investigation will have to be much higher than those that the US used for its missile strikes.
Mohammed Sadiq Odeh was arrested in Pakistan on the day of the bombings, interrogated and then sent back to Kenya. He was flown back to New York yesterday. He had given interrogators numerous details of the operation, they said, leading to other arrests. It was unclear what charges had been brought against him.
Mr Odeh said that he had left Kenya before the attack, entrusting it to subordinates.
Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali, also known as Khalid Salim Saleh bin Rashed, the second suspect, was arrested in Kenya and turned over to the FBI. He admitted throwing a grenade at an embassy guard, and was injured in the blast after the bomb in his truck went off. The "operation was supposed to be a martyrdom operation, which he did not expect to survive," the FBI complaint against him said. He was flown to the US on Wednesday, and appeared in court yesterday afternoon.
Mr Owhali was treated in hospital for his injuries, and threw away evidence linking himself to the blast, including three bullets and keys fitting a lock on the back of the truck. This evidence was recovered by hospital employees. Mr Owhali was charged with 14 counts of murder, murder conspiracy and the use of weapons of mass destruction, according to the FBI. He is said to have told authorities of extensive links with Mr bin Laden.
The US issued an indictment against Mr bin Laden weeks before the embassy blast. American investigators opened an inquiry on the former financier three years ago, in the aftermath of the investigation into the World Trade Centre bomb.Reuse content