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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 18:13 GMT
'Bin Laden associate held in secret'
US troops in Somalia
Al-Nalfi was allegedly ordered to attack US forces in Somalia
A Sudanese man the US believes to be part of a global conspiracy to kill Americans has been held in secret in New York for more than four months, the New York Times reports.

Mohamed Suleiman al-Nalfi, who was arrested in Kenya last Autumn, has been indicted as an associate of Saudi billionaire Osama Bin Laden's alleged militant network. He has denied the charge.

This man is an impoverished businessman...he is not a terrorist

Marion Seltzer, lawyer
The US has linked Mr Bin Laden's al Qaeda organisation to the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 224 people died.

Although Mr al-Nalfi is not charged with any role in the embassy attacks, he is charged with forming a Sudanese branch of the organisation at the request of Mr Bin Laden's military commander.

Alleged links

The US alleges that Mr al-Nalfi was ordered in 1992 or 1993 to have his group ready to travel to Somalia to assist with the expulsion of US and United Nations forces.

Osama Bin Laden
Osama Bin Laden: America's most wanted man
Appearing in court last Friday, Mr al-Nalfi pleaded not guilty to the charges.

"This man is an impoverished businessman. He is not a terrorist," said his lawyer, Marion Seltzer.

She said her client may have had contact with Osama Bin Laden while fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, but insisted Mr al-Nalfi "never harboured any hostility toward the United States or its citizens."

Secret arrest

The US Government has refused to be drawn on why Mr al-Nalfi's arrest was kept quiet for so long.

However, in the past prosecutors have sometimes worked behind the scenes in an effort to win cooperation from terrorism suspects.

Charges have only followed the breakdown of negotiations.

Ms Selzer said Mr al-Nalfi was arrested by the FBI while he was travelling from Sudan to Amsterdam, where he thought he was being offered a job.

Four men charged in connection with the 1998 embassy bombings are currently on trial in federal court in New York.

At least a dozen others remain at large, including Osama Bin Laden.

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09 Mar 01 | Americas
Embassy bombing suspect implicated
06 Aug 99 | South Asia
Osama bin Laden: America's most wanted
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