Embassy Bombings

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EMBASSY BOMBINGS. On 7 August 1998, terrorists bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people, including 12 American citizens, and injuring over 4,000. Federal investigators soon identified Osama bin Laden and the organization Al Qaeda as the principal suspects in the attacks. Several individuals were taken into custody.

Following a grand jury investigation, several individuals were indicted in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York. The defendants were charged with numerous offenses, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals, murder of U.S. employees, and destruction of U.S. property. Four defendants in custody challenged their indictments on various grounds, including the extraterritorial application of federal law, the extension of constitutional protections abroad, and the potential imposition of the death penalty. The courts denied each of these challenges.

After a six-month jury trial, the four defendants were convicted in May 2001, but the jury declined to impose the death penalty. On 18 October 2001, all four defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. In addition, the defendants were ordered to pay $33 million in restitution to the U.S. government and the families of the victims.


Bergen, Peter. Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001.

William J.Aceves

See alsoCole Bombing ; 9/11 Attack ; Terrorism .