NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A man described as one of al-Qaida’s early leaders has been convicted of conspiracy in the deadly bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

A New York City federal jury returned the verdict Thursday in the case against Khaled al-Fawwaz. The monthlong trial delved into al Qaeda’s early days.

As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, jurors did not have to find that al-Fawwaz built or detoned the bomb, but that he aided in the conspiracy.

Prosecutors portrayed the Saudi Arabian al-Fawwaz as a close confidant of Osama bin Laden. They said al-Fawwaz led an al Qaeda Afghanistan training camp in the early 1990s before helping a terrorist cell in Kenya.

Al-Fawwaz at one time ranked as the ninth-most powerful member of al Qaeda, prosecutors say.

The government said he became bin Laden’s link to Western journalists before the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The attacks killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans, and injured more than 4,000.

Defense lawyers said al-Fawwaz was a peace-minded dissident dismayed by bin Laden’s turn toward violence.

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