Kenyan authorities dropped murder charges against three terrorism suspects Friday and instead charged them with conspiracy to commit a felony in three Al Qaeda attacks and a foiled plot to destroy the U.S. Embassy.
Prosecutor John Gacivih said the charges against Said Saggar Ahmed, Salmin Mohammed Khamis and Kubwa Mohammed Seif were reduced because the murder case was not strong enough.
They are charged in the Nov. 28, 2002, bombing of a hotel on the Kenyan coast that killed at least 16 people, a nearly simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner, the alleged plot to destroy the new U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in June and the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy, also in the capital, that killed 219 people, including 12 Americans.
All three pleaded not guilty Friday. At least one suspect reportedly had admitted taking part in the plot to destroy the new embassy with a car bomb and small aircraft.
The men were among nine originally charged in the hotel bombing. Murder charges were also dropped against two other suspects -- Faiz Abdalla Sharrif and Mohammed Ali Hassan.