Guantanamo detainee's cousin testifies at NY trial

AP News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2010 7:12 PM
Guantanamo detainee's cousin testifies at NY trial

A man accused of joining an al-Qaida plot to attack two U.S. embassies in Africa and then fleeing to Pakistan told his family beforehand that he was moving to Yemen, his cousin testified Wednesday at the man's trial.

In the weeks before a bombing of an embassy in Tanzania 12 years ago, Ahmed Ghailani "said he was going to look for livelihood in Yemen," the cousin, Ladha Hussein, testified.

"I said, `Life there is very difficult,'" said Hussein, recounting the conversation through an interpreter in federal court in Manhattan. "He said, `I'm going to try.'"

The school bus driver from Tanzania said it was the last time he had seen his cousin until Wednesday in court.

Prosecutors allege Ghailani _ the first Guantanamo detainee to face a civil trial _ lied about his true plans to conceal a brewing plot that included an almost-simultaneous attack on a second U.S. embassy in Kenya. The Aug. 7, 1998, bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi killed a total of 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Ghailani, 36, has been accused of helping buy a truck used in the Tanzania blast and purchasing components for explosives. The defense says he was in the dark about the terror plot.

The day before the attack, prosecutors say, Ghailani and other plotters fled to Pakistan. Authorities say that while he was on the run, he spent time in Afghanistan as a cook and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden and later as a document forger for al-Qaida in Pakistan.

He was captured in 2004 and held by the CIA at a secret overseas camp before being transferred to Guantanamo in 2006.

Hussein testified that Ghailani had made an unexplained trip to Pakistan sometime before the African attacks _ an assertion the defense didn't challenge.

"He said goodbye and that he was going to Pakistan," the cousin said. "I didn't see him after that for a while."

The trial, in its third week of testimony, was expected to last several weeks. But prosecutors told the judge on Wednesday that they could rest their case as early as next week.

The defense indicated that it was unlikely Ghailani would testify.