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US seeks to use bin Laden letters at terror trial

Created: 12/15/2014 6:52 PM
By: By LARRY NEUMEISTER

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors want a judge presiding over a terrorism trial to let them show jurors letters recovered in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden to boost evidence against a man snatched off the streets of Libya last year.

In papers in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to permit the "critically important evidence" against Abu Anas al-Libi.

Al-Libi was nabbed in Tripoli in October 2013 and brought to the United States to face trial in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people. He has pleaded not guilty in the attacks, which killed a dozen Americans.

The government wants to show jurors six letters dated between June 2010 and April 2011 and recovered from bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan compound, where he was killed May 2, 2011, by a special operations team.

Al-Libi's lawyer did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Prosecutors said the letters, including two written by al-Libi, prove he actively participated in al-Qaida after eight years incarcerated in Iran. They said the letters would provide a Jan. 12 trial with "powerful, direct, proof of al-Qaida's conspiracies to bomb and kill Americans, as well as Anas al-Libi's knowing and intentional participation in them."

"Indeed, one can scarcely conceive of more powerful uncharged-acts proof than recent correspondence among bin Laden, his chief deputy, and the defendant about the defendant's continued participation in al-Qaida," prosecutors said in papers filed Friday.

In one 2010 letter to bin Laden, al-Libi asks "God to reunite me with you soon under the banner of Islam and the Islamic state and the banner of jihad," the government said.

The government also wants to show jurors four letters to bin Laden from his chief deputy discussing al-Libi's continued participation in al-Qaida, prosecutors said.

In an Oct. 13, 2010, letter written by al-Libi, he responds to a bin Laden request that he describe his flight from Afghanistan to Iran in late 2001 or early 2002 and his release from Iranian detention and his return to Pakistan in 2010, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said al-Libi told bin Laden he worried about him throughout his incarceration.

"You may know the place you hold in my heart and so I ask Allah to bring us together," al-Libi was quoted by the government as saying.

Prosecutors said al-Libi then asked bin Laden for "a reward for you and I" from "Allah" that "will lead us, you and I, in the end, to martyrdom in his (Allah's) sake."

Prosecutors said al-Libi confessed to U.S. investigators he joined al-Qaida in 1989, receiving training in security, bomb-making, intelligence collection and passport forgery, and had been involved with al-Qaida security, including a stint as bin Laden's chief personal bodyguard.

Prosecutors noted al-Libi has repeatedly claimed his intent was to fight Libya's former leader and not to kill Americans. They said the letters more than a decade after the embassy bombings provided "powerful proof of the defendant's culpable participation in the bin Laden-led conspiracies during the charged period."

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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