|Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is suspected of buying the truck used to bomb a US Embassy.|
Suspect denies prior knowledge of bomb
Says he is sorry for embassy blast
WASHINGTON -- A Guantanamo Bay detainee indicted in the bombing of the US Embassy in Tanzania says he unwittingly delivered the explosives used by others for the deadly attack, according to a Pentagon transcript of his hearing.
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani said he did not know about the assault beforehand and was sorry for the role he played, according to the transcript of his hearing at the Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba.
"It was without my knowledge what they were doing, but I helped them," he said. "So I apologize to the United States government for what I did. And I'm sorry for what happened to those families who lost -- who lost their friends and their beloved ones."
More than 200 people were killed in the simultaneous attacks in August 1998 on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Eleven people were killed and as many as 85 were wounded by the explosion in the parking lot of the embassy in Tanzania; nearly two- thirds of the building was destroyed.
Ghailani, a Tanzanian, is suspected of buying the truck used to deliver the bomb, supplying TNT and detonators, and later running a document forgery office for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He was arrested after a gun battle in Gujrat in eastern Pakistan in July 2004.
Ghailani, speaking through a military representative, said he was first told the TNT he carried was soap for washing horses, then later -- after he delivered it -- was told it was explosives "for mining for diamonds in Somalia" and also for a Somali training camp.
During the hearing, Ghailani denied buying the truck but said he was there when it was purchased. He said he delivered the TNT to "Fahad Mohammed." Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam, of Mombasa, Kenya, was one of five suspects added to an indictment in December 1998 in connection with the embassy bombings. He has never been reported captured.
Ghailani also asked that a witness, Khalfan Khamis Mohammad, be called to speak in his defense. Military officials at the hearing, however, said Mohammad, who reportedly identified Ghailani as one of the participants in the bombing, is in federal prison, and declined to provide a statement on Ghailani's behalf.
"Maybe he said Ahmed was involved in this and there was two Ahmeds. Me and another one," Ghailani said at the hearing. "He mean another Ahmed. Not me."
The detention center will probably remain open beyond the end of President Bush's term despite his stated desire to close it, the White House said yesterday.
Presidential spokesman Tony Snow also acknowledged that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, shortly after taking office last year, had argued for shutting down the prison quickly. Gates raised his concerns with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and deferred to his arguments for keeping Guantanamo open, Snow said.
At times speaking in English, Ghailani said he went to an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan after the bombing because he wanted military training for self-defense. He said he was not there to train for an attack on the United States.