NEW YORK — An Egyptian lawyer who pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill Americans in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa was sentenced Friday to the maximum 25 years in prison by a judge who decried the "horror in this world."
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan announced the sentence for Adel Abdul Bary, 54, saying he was the beneficiary of an "enormously generous plea bargain" that capped his potential sentence at 25 years. Before the September plea, Bary could have faced life in prison if he went to trial.
Kaplan said it was likely Bary would face about eight more years in prison because he has been incarcerated since 1999.
"This was as serious a crime against American citizens as I can imagine," the judge said.
Bary admitted spreading claims of responsibility and future terrorist threats after the August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.
The sentencing occurred after the judge heard Edith Bartley, whose father and brother were killed in the Kenya embassy bombing, describe how families were "living with unbearable pain and sorrow that never completely goes away."
In court papers prior to sentencing, defense lawyer Andrew Patel sought to cast his client in a sympathetic light by describing torture he suffered in Egypt prior to his move to London.
"There is too much horror in this world," the judge said, adding that he might have taken the descriptions of torture into account if Bary had faced a longer sentence.
Kaplan said there were too many people "doing unspeakable things to other people."
"Nothing new about it," the judge added. "We can't as a human race seem to put it behind us."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Buckley said case evidence was "startling to the contrary" of the defense's depiction of Bary as peaceful.
In court papers, the government said correspondence recovered from locations in London show that Bary after the bombings continued to act as a "conduit for communications" between the media and his al-Qaida co-conspirators, including Osama bin Laden.
Prosecutors said Bary was in London when the embassies were bombed.
Prior to being sentenced, Bary apologized to victims and referenced his letter to Kaplan in which he said he had repeatedly spoken out against violence and had written that threats against the West and the United States were wrong.
Bary was arrested in connection with the bombings in September 1998 by United Kingdom authorities and again in July 1999, when he was charged by U.S. prosecutors. He was extradited to New York in October 2012.
Although his plea deal says he can request to serve the remainder of his term in another country, Kaplan said the full sentence should be served in the United States.