MANHATTAN (CN) – An FBI agent testified that her team discovered TNT residue in the same building where they found the fingerprints of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in civilian court. FBI special agent Megan Miller said her team found the TNT residue and fingerprints in the Azzan Clothing Store in Mombasa, Kenya, where prosecutors say Ghailani plotted the Kenya attack.
Ghailani is accused of conspiring in, planning and helping to execute explosions in U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya on Aug. 7, 1998, which killed more than 200 people.
His defense attorneys contend that Ghailani was simply an employee, selling women’s clothing in Mombasa.
Miller testified on Monday that her team entered the store in full-body protective clothing to protect evidence from contamination. Agents took swabs to check for explosive residue, then recovered a chalice, two books, a suitcase, clothing, a telephone and several soda bottles as evidence to ship to a laboratory in the United States.
A pair of blue jeans tested positive for PETN [pentaerythritol tetranitrate – an explosive, which also is used as a vasodilator for people with heart problems], and two T-shirts and a pair of shorts were found to have TNT residue as well as PETN, Miller said.
Five Fanta soda bottles were found on the floor, and one of the glass bottles sent to a forensics laboratory was found to have the Ghailani’s fingerprints, the FBI agent testified.
During cross examination, defense attorney Steven Zissou asked Miller to elaborate on the precautions agents took to prevent contamination of evidence. She said that even the protective suits, gloves, headgear and shoes are sealed and stored as evidence after the agents use them.
Last week, Zissou grilled a different government forensics expert about the ability of TNT residue to be transferred by hand contact with clothing. In demonstrating his point, Zissou theatrically rubbed the shoulders of his lines of co-counsels and asked if they could all be implicated in a “criminal conspiracy” if one of them had chemical contamination, drawing an objection from prosecutors.
Before Miller took the stand, a government witness said that Ghailani and other suspects slept in the Azzam Clothing Store shortly before the explosion.
Mica Ngugi, the owner of an outdoor garage near the store, said he knew Ghailani and the other suspects were sleeping there because he saw them leaving in the morning after the door had been locked from the inside.
Ngugi identified Ghailani as a friend of Fahid Mohamed Ally, who was reported to have been killed last year in a drone attack.
But defense attorney Peter Quijano suggested that Ngugi had told the FBI that Ghailani was a “shop boy,” employed by Fahid’s family.
“I didn’t tell say he was an employee. He was Fahid’s friend,” Ngugi testified.
Ngugi also denied telling the FBI that Ghailani played with children outside the shop and usually wore Western clothes.
During opening arguments, defense attorney Zissou said that Ghailani was “naïve” and had been “duped” by his friends.
In cross examinations, defense attorneys have been trying to establish that the stories government witnesses are telling on the stand conflict with the stories the FBI claim to have received from them.
The trial continues today in U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s court.