Bin Laden Associate Charged

U.S. authorities have filed murder charges against a ranking member of the terrorist group headed by Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile wanted in last month's embassy bombings.

A criminal complaint unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in New York charges the suspect, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, with murder conspiracy and use of weapons of mass destruction in an international plot to kill U.S. citizens. Salim -- described in the complaint as one of the founders of bin Laden's al Qaeda organization -- is in custody in Germany awaiting extradition to the United States.

Salim has not been accused of being involved in the simultaneous attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on Aug. 7 which killed 259 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded thousands. The complaint instead charges Salim with helping finance, train and arm members of al Qaeda, including the alleged embassy bombers.

Salim has managed terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sudan for al Qaeda and has traveled the world to raise money for the group and helped obtain weapons, including components for nuclear weapons, the complaint said.

Since 1990, Salim and bin Laden plotted to use their forces to "to kill nationals of the United States ... while such nationals were outside the United States," the complaint said.

A member of al Qaeda, who was recruited by the FBI as a confidential informant, told agents that Salim sat on the al Qaeda governing council, and would often lecture recruits on Islamic history and law, the complaint said. The informant said the suspect "was prominent among the members and associates of al Queda and was particularly influential" with bin Laden.

Salim was arrested Sept. 16, at a car dealership near Munich on a tip from Interpol in Washington, officials said. During questioning in Munich on Monday, Salim told investigators he traveled from the Sudan to Germany on "some minor private business," officials added. He had a visa issued by a German embassy.

The United States has 40 days to complete extradition proceedings for the suspect, who is being held in Munich. The German Justice Ministry has to approve the extradition.

Arrested on murder charges last month and brought to the United States were Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 33, and Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali. Al-'Owhali allegedly confessed to FBI agents that he rode in the bomb-laden vehicle to the Nairobi embassy and tossed a grenade at a guard in what was supposed to be a suicide mission; Odeh is accused helping plan the attack.

A fugitive, identified as Haroun Fazil, also is charged in the attack. He allegedly drove a pickup truck which led the car-laden vehicle to the embassy in Kenya.

Also in federal custody in New York is Wadih El Hage, identified as the former personal secretary of bin Laden. He is charged with lying to a grand jury and the FBI about his ties to the Muslim extremist.

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