Four followers of international terror suspect Usama bin Laden were convicted Tuesday of conspiring to kill Americans in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
The near-simultaneous explosions at the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
As early as 1989, prosecutors said, bin Laden was taking aim at the United States — or "the head of the snake" as he called it — and by 1998 had issued an edict to kill Americans anywhere they were found.
The trial unveiled with horrific detail the consequences of this deadly order — the 224 people who died on Aug. 7, 1998, and the thousands of others who were trapped in the rubble.
Rashed Daoud Al-'Owhali, 24, of Saudi Arabia, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, of Tanzania, Wadih El-Hage, 40, of Arlington, Texas, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 36, of Jordan, were found guilty in the bombings. Al-Owhali and Mohamed were convicted of counts that could carry the death penalty.
The verdict from an anonymous federal jury in a tightly guarded Manhattan federal courtroom set the stage for more trials: Six other defendants charged in the conspiracy are in custody; a dozen others, including bin Laden, are being sought.
The jury deliberated over 12 days. The courtroom was packed with about 100 spectators when the verdict was read.
The panel continued to return verdicts against the four defendants from the 302-count indictment.
Jurors heard nearly three months of testimony about the twin blasts at embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Some appeared stunned as they viewed photos of the bodies burned and torn in the attacks.
The jury also heard prosecutors repeatedly invoke the name of bin Laden. They charged that as the reputed kingpin of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, he commanded a ragtag army of Islamic extremists who had answered the call to repel the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan.
The bombings brought an unprecedented worldwide response to terrorism by hundreds of FBI agents and prosecutors. Treating terrorism like organized crime, investigators used informants, turncoat terrorists, telephone bugs and confessions to build the case.
In a confession recounted during the trial by an FBI agent, Al-Owhali told investigators he rode the bomb-carrying truck to the embassy in Nairobi and tossed stun grenades to distract guards. The would-be suicide bomber fled before he could become a martyr.
In a similar confession to another agent, Mohamed said he helped grind TNT for the bomb in Tanzania before loading the bomb truck and seeing it off, praying that it would achieve its deadly purpose.
Prosecutors alleged that El-Hage -- bin Laden's personal secretary -- led "a secret double life," globe-trotting to raise money and smuggle weapons like Stinger missiles for al-Qaeda's terror plots.
Odeh, an alleged explosives expert, was accused of being a "technical adviser" to the terror group. He stayed in the same hotel room with the mastermind of the Nairobi bombing in the days just before the attack, prosecutors said.
Defense lawyers claimed Mohamed was a mere "pawn" unaware of the bomb's intent, while Al-'Owhali should have been exonerated because he was accused of a decade-long worldwide conspiracy he knew nothing about.
The defense also argued that explosives residue on Odeh's clothing was inconclusive and that he was a victim of guilt by association because he had joined al-Qaeda. Lawyers for El-Hage argued that he was a businessman who knew nothing about bin Laden's terrorism designs.The AP contributed to this report