NEW YORK — An Egyptian lawyer charged in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa is trying to distance himself from other acts of terrorism even as British investigators reportedly look at his son in the killing of an American journalist.
Abdel Abdul Bary’s lawyers say in order for him to receive a fair trial in New York, sensational references to terrorism must be eliminated from his case. But that was before his son was named in reports by British newspapers as among those being looked at by investigators in the beheading of journalist James Foley.
A lawyer for Bary did not immediately respond to a message for comment today.
Bary, 54, was extradited from Britain to the U.S. in 2012 to face terrorism charges in connection with the twin bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans. His trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 3.
In court papers, prosecutors have said Bary’s fingerprints were found at a location from which al-Qaida’s claims of responsibility for the embassy bombing attacks were transmitted to the United Kingdom by fax hours before the bombs were detonated.
Bary has asked through his lawyers that he be tried separately from Abu Anas al-Libi, who was snatched off the streets of Tripoli last year and brought to New York to face terrorism charges in the embassy bombing case. Al-Libi was once on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists.
In court papers filed earlier this month, Bary’s lawyers noted that Bary has been incarcerated since 1999, while al-Libi was free from 1998 until his October arrest.
“And during that time span many Americans, and particularly those living in and near New York City, experienced on an enormous scale a world in which terrorism specifically associated with Muslims affected their personal lives,” the lawyers wrote, referencing the Sept. 11 attacks among other acts of terrorism.
They warned that no amount of instructions to a jury “can erase from the minds of jurors the acts of Muslim-associated terrorism that took place” while Bary was detained and al-Libi was free.
“In the charged atmosphere of post 9/11 New York, in the shadow of the New Freedom Tower that by its grace only serves to highlight the absence of the twin towers, Mr. Bary would be substantially prejudiced by a joint trial” with al-Libi, the lawyers said.
Now, though, the lawyers must contend with reports in British newspapers that investigators are looking at several British jihadi thought to be in the Razza area of Syria, including Bary’s son, Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a former London rapper.
On Sunday, Peter Westmacott, Britain’s ambassador to the United States, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program that “we’re not far away” from naming the man in the Islamic State group video.
He said investigators were using techniques including sophisticated voice-recognition software to identify the masked, knife-wielding figure.