A former al-Qaeda member testified at a terrorism trial in New York that he left the group after it failed to pay for his pregnant wife's medical care and later began cooperating with a U.S. probe of two embassy bombings.
L'Houssaine Kherchtou, 46, a Moroccan, testified yesterday for the second day in the trial of Ahmed Ghailani, who is accused of assisting in al-Qaeda's bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The 1998 attacks killed 224 people, including 12 U.S. citizens. Prosecutors say he helped buy the truck that was used to deliver the bomb to the embassy in Dar es Salaam. The resulting explosion left 11 people dead.
Kherchtou, who joined the group in 1991, first became a terrorist training camp instructor and later took flight lessons to become Osama bin Laden's personal pilot, he said. He testified money became scarce for al-Qaeda members by late 1995 after the group moved to Sudan and a series of businesses launched by bin Laden, including mining and gem dealing, failed. He said al-Qaeda leaders decided to relocate to Afghanistan in early 1996 after the Taliban took control of the country.