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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Max Allowed by Plea Deal in Embassy Terror Case

MANHATTAN (CN) - Refusing to inch below what he called an "extraordinarily generous plea bargain," a federal judge sentenced Egyptian Adel Abdel Bary to 25 years in prison for his role in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings.

Accounting for time already served both in London and the United States, Friday's sentence under the terms of the deal he reached with prosecutors may let Bary reunite with his family in the United Kingdom after eight years.

Bary has been incarcerated ever since British police picked him up on Sept. 23, 1998, roughly two months after the al-Qaida bombings that he trumpeted killed 224 people in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Thousands more were injured.

In September, Bary said that he helped those attacks by agreeing to "transmit the messages for the media personnel to my co-conspirators, including but not limited to Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden."

Shortly into the sentencing hearing, a spokeswoman for the victims of the bombings took to the podium to urge U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to give the stiffest possible sentence.

Edith Barkley, whose father and brother perished in the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, spoke at length about the "unbearable pain and sorrow" that the "heinous, barbaric and cowardly acts of terror" brought upon her family.

Calling herself a "daddy's girl," Barkley recounted the safari that her diplomat father, Julian Barkley Sr., took the family on one Christmas. She spoke also of the academic promise that her brother showed in international affairs when he died at the age of 17.

"He was my only sibling, and I think of him every day," she said.

Bary's lawyer Andrew Patel depicted his client as a man devoted to nonviolence, saying Bary signed onto al-Qaida's bloody attacks in support of toppling the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

"Tortured by the Mubarak regime in the 1980s, he was committed to helping others escape his fate and to the overthrow of the Egyptian rulers," Patel wrote of Bary in one of several lengthy sentencing briefs.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys submitted "massive submissions" of dozens of exhibits, Kaplan noted at Friday's sentencing hearing.

Patel quipped that, between the two parties, the court received a pile of paper the size of "War and Peace."

"I'm waiting for the 'Peace' part," Kaplan replied pointedly.

For the defense, the documents included what Patel described as his client's repeated public statements supporting peace and nonviolence.

Kaplan asked whether Bary had been walking back from the offense to which he had pleaded guilty - knowingly and intentionally conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens.

Bary affirmed that he did not.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Buckley said that Bary's self-depiction was "belied by the record before you."

"This was a man who knew who he was working with," he said.

Speaking of Bary's claim to have "abhorred violence," Kaplan said: "I reject that argument."

The grisly accounts of Bary's torture in Egypt likewise failed to sway Kaplan toward a lighter sentence.

Bary reported suffering electric shocks to the genitals, being burned with cigarettes on his lips and nipples, doused with cold water, and enduring beatings that "severely disfigured" him, according to his sentencing brief.

Of Bary's torture, Kaplan said "there is too much horror in this world."

"We can't as a human race seem to put it behind us," the judge added.

Kaplan said that factor might have led him to reduce Bary's sentence, but for the "extraordinarily generous" deal he already had struck with prosecutors.

After "just a little over eight years," Bary may see his family again, Kaplan noted.

"The victims of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and Mogadishu and other atrocities, they have no such prospect," the judge added.

Bary also must contribute to the $33 million in restitution that he and his co-conspirators owe. Several participants in the 1998 Embassy bombings have been convicted in Kaplan's court before, and the ongoing trial of another accused plotter, Khalid al-Fawwaz, continues on Monday.

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