The first, and possibly the last, Guantanamo detainee to have a US civilian trial was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for his role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa, a case that nearly unraveled when the defendant was convicted on just one of more than 280 counts.
Ahmed Ghailani, who served as Osama bin Laden's cook and bodyguard after the bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, sought leniency, claiming he was tortured at a secret CIA camp after his arrest in Pakistan seven years ago. But US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan imposed the maximum sentence, saying that whatever Ghailani suffered "pales in comparison to the suffering and the horror" caused by the nearly simultaneous attacks, which killed 224 people and injured thousands more.
Ghailani, 36, was convicted last month of conspiring to destroy government buildings. Prosecutors said he bought a truck used in the Tanzanian attack, stored and concealed detonators, sheltered an al-Qaida fugitive and delivered hundreds of pounds of TNT to the African terror cell.