NEW YORK -- Federal prosecutors have filed secret charges against a former sergeant in the U.S. Special Forces who is suspected of switching sides in the war against terrorism and joining the global campaign to attack Americans mounted by the Saudi exile Osama bin Laden.
The charges are part of federal authorities' efforts to prove that bin Laden was behind the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in August and a series of other attacks against U.S. soldiers in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
They draw new ties between bin Laden and a circle of Islamic militants in Brooklyn, who were implicated in the World Trade Center bombing and a plot to blow up the United Nations and other New York landmarks.
The former Special Forces sergeant, Ali Mohamed, was charged in September in a closed court hearing in Manhattan and remains in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, according to law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Officials declined to provide details about the charges against Mohamed and it was not clear when he allegedly became linked to bin Laden or whether he knew of -- or took part in -- any of the group's attacks against U.S. soldiers.
In what appears to be a related development, prosecutors investigating bin Laden are negotiating a possible plea agreement with another man, a former associate of Mohamed's who was arrested this year in Washington, according to court records. Such a deal could be intended to secure testimony about Mohamed or his circle.
Mohamed, 46, served for three years at the Army's Special Forces base in Fort Bragg, N.C., and was honorably discharged from the service in 1989, according to military records and interviews. His records show that his duties ranged from clerical work to instructing soldiers headed for the Middle East about Islamic culture.
Pub Date: 10/30/98