An al Qaeda suspect accused in the 1998 US embassy bombings in
Africa will become the first Guantanamo Bay prisoner to go to trial
in a civilian court in the United States, a US official said.
The US government was expected to announce that Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused of supplying equipment and support for the bombings, would be brought to trial in federal court in New York, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The decision comes as the administration tries to determine what to do with the 240 foreign terrorism suspects held at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, established after the September 11, 2001 attacks, in order to meet President Barack Obama's deadline to close the facility by the end of January.
Members of Congress are raising opposition to transferring any of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States, saying it would put American security at risk even if they were jailed.
Obama, who campaigned for president on a pledge to close the Guantanamo prison, plans to address concerns in a speech on Thursday.
Ghailani was indicted in New York on charges related to the nearly simultaneous bombings in August 1998 of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and will be prosecuted on charges that he played a role in the deaths of more than 200 people.
Eleven people were killed and at least 85 were wounded in the Tanzania bombing and 213 people were killed in Kenya.
A Tanzanian, Ghailani was seized in Pakistan in 2004 and was one of the 14 high-value detainees transferred to Guantanamo from secret CIA prisons in September 2006.
At a 2007 hearing at Guantanamo Bay to determine that he was an enemy combatant, Ghailani confessed and apologized for supplying equipment used in the Tanzania bombing but said he did not know the supplies would be used to attack the embassy, according to military transcripts.
He told the Guantanamo review panel he bought the TNT used in the bombing, purchased a cell phone used by another person involved in the attack and was present when a third person bought a truck used in the attack, the transcript said.
US Attorney General Eric Holder has sought to calm the furore in Congress over the potential transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States by repeatedly saying no decisions would be made that would jeopardize the safety of Americans.
He told reporters that he was confident the administration and Congress would eventually work out their differences.
"It is still our intention, and I think we will meet that goal that the president has set to close Guantanamo by late January of next year," Holder said.