The father of the British-born jihadist named in some reports as the killer of an American journalist last week is currently behind bars in a high security jail in Manhattan awaiting trial on charges arising from the East Africa US embassy bombings in 1998 that killed 224 people.
The reports that the man seen on an Isis video clip beheading the journalist, James Foley, almost one week ago was, in fact, a 23-year-old Londoner named Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary threatens to add unwelcome new complication to the upcoming US terror trial slated to open in Manhattan on 3 November.
Ordered by Osama bin Laden, the 1998 attacks struck at the US embassies of both Kenya and Tanzania.
The father, Adel Abdel Bary, 54, was extradited to the US from Britain in 2012 alongside the former London imam Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was convicted at a separate New York trial earlier this year. He faces multiple charges of murder and has two co-defendants, Abu Anas al-Libi, who was snatched from the streets of Tripoli by US special forces last year and another man also extradited from Britain, Khalid al-Fawwaz.
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said at the time of their extradition that Mr Bary and his co-defendants were “at the nerve centres of al-Qa’ida’s acts of terror”. He added that “they caused blood to be shed, lives to be lost, and families to be shattered”.
The criminal complaints say that Mr Bary’s fingerprints had been found at a location from where a fax message was sent to the US authorities claiming responsibility for the embassy bombings.
The Egyptian-born father was given asylum by Britain in 1993. After a failed attempt by the British authorities to link Mr Bary to the twin embassy bombings, he was indicted by the US and taken into custody in Britain in 1998 pending extradition that came a full 14 years later. It was against that background that any anti-Western prejudices and resentments could have taken root inside the young son.
Video: The death of James Foley
Last week, lawyers for Mr Bary asked the court that he not be tried alongside Mr al-Libi, who was free for most of the time – including for the 9/11 attacks on New York – when he was behind bars in Britain. “During that time span many Americans, and particularly those living in and near New York City, experienced on an enormous scale a world in which terrorism specifically associated with Muslims affected their personal lives,” they said.
“In the charged atmosphere of post 9/11 New York, Mr. Bary would be substantially prejudiced by a joint trial,” with al-Libi, the lawyers went on.