WASHINGTON (AP) -- As recently as seven months ago, U.S. authorities detailed in open court an extensive network of companies and bank accounts established by Osama bin Laden and his terror group -- enterprises as diverse as road construction and peanut farming.
Witnesses during the trial of suspects charged in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa identified businesses that bin Laden's al-Qaida group ran in Sudan to obtain equipment and cash and provide favors for the Sudanese government.
Sudan previously has provided asylum to the multimillionaire Saudi exile, whom U.S. authorities have long accused of running a global terrorist network known as al-Qaida.
Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl, a bin Laden associate turned government witness, recounted a 1992 meeting at which bin Laden was asked if the companies had to make money, because business was poor in Sudan.
Speaking in broken English, al-Fadl testified: "He say our agenda is bigger than business. We are not going to make business here, but we need to help the government and the government help our group, and this is our purpose."
The embassy bombings case provides a glimpse of money behind bin Laden's financing, outlining wide-ranging business holdings in Sudan through which he converted currency and imported equipment.
In Sudan, "bin Laden and his group began taking actions to prepare to do battle with his enemies, particularly the United States," prosecutor Paul Butler told jurors during opening statements in the trial last February.
Al-Qaida's Hijra Construction Co. built the Thaadi -- or "revolutionary" -- Road from Khartoum to Port Sudan for the Sudanese government, which paid by giving al-Qaida ownership of the Khartoum Tannery, according to court records.
Bin Laden and al-Qaida also ran the Themar al Mubaraka and the Blessed Fruits farming businesses, growing peanuts, fruit, sesame, white corn, sunflowers and wheat, according to testimony.
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