Adel Abdel Bary

Adel Abdel Bary is an Egyptian national who was al-Qaeda’s Europe-based propagandist in the 1990s. Additionally, he was the co-conspirator of two bombing attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam in August 1998. The attacks killed at least 200 people and injured thousands of others.“East African Embassy Bombings,” Federal Bureau of Investigation, https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/east-african-embassy-bombings; Fiona Hamilton, “Adel Abdel Bary: Bin Laden’s spokesman flies to Britain,” Times, December 12, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/adel-abdel-bary-uk-flight-hc0jtwcmg. Bary is also the father of Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a former rapper turned ISIS operative who the Spanish police later called “one of the most sought terrorists in Europe.”Rich Calder, “Dad of ‘John the Beatle’ suspect admits Osama terror plot,” New York Post, September 19, 2014, https://nypost.com/2014/09/19/dad-of-john-the-beatle-admits-to-98-embassy-bomb-plot-with-osama/.; Aritz Parra and Serge Cartwright, “Spain arrests ex-rapper as Islamic State fighter in Syria,” Associated Press, April 21, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/1567204d3e8a7bbcaaadb0021c3b68d5.

From 1982 until 1991, Bary allegedly served multiple stints in Egyptian prisons following the murder of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Although Bary was repeatedly arrested, imprisoned, and released, media sources primarily detail his arrest in 1982 in which Egyptian authorities arrested Bary for sheltering Muntaser al-Zayyat, a critic of the Mubarak regime who had come into power after the assassination of Sadat.David J. Bier, “Profiles of Every Terrorism Vetting Failure in the Last 30 Years,” CATO Institute, April 17, 2018, https://www.cato.org/blog/profiles-every-terrorism-vetting-failure-last-30-years. Sometime during those sentences—where he was allegedly tortured by Egyptian authorities—Bary obtained a university degree and began working as a human rights lawyer. From 1987 until 1991, Bary represented clients who opposed the Mubarak regime, and allegedly became radicalized himself during this period.David J. Bier, “Profiles of Every Terrorism Vetting Failure in the Last 30 Years,” CATO Institute, April 17, 2018, https://www.cato.org/blog/profiles-every-terrorism-vetting-failure-last-30-years. Bary applied for political asylum in Britain in 1991 and shortly left Egypt afterwards.Martin Gould, “Father of Jihadi John suspect ‘was one of Bin Laden’s closest lieutenants’: Dad of Brit rapper accused of beheading James Foley is locked up in the US accused of helping to blow up two American embassies killing 224,” Daily Mail, August 24, 2014, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2733558/Father-Jihadi-John-one-Bin-Ladens-closest-lieutenants-currently-trial-US-embassy-bombings-killed-224-people.html.

In 1994, while living in London, Bary allegedly took over the business affairs for the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), an al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist organization dedicated to the overthrow of the Egyptian government. Although reports do not detail the extent of Bary’s activities in the EIJ, in 1995, an Egyptian court sentenced Bary to death in absentia for a plot to blow up a market in Cairo’s bazaar district.Martin Gould, “Father of Jihadi John suspect ‘was one of Bin Laden’s closest lieutenants’: Dad of Brit rapper accused of beheading James Foley is locked up in the US accused of helping to blow up two American embassies killing 224,” Daily Mail, August 24, 2014, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2733558/Father-Jihadi-John-one-Bin-Ladens-closest-lieutenants-currently-trial-US-embassy-bombings-killed-224-people.html. Ayman al-Zawahiri later appointed Bary as the head of EIJ’s London Branch in 1996. From 1996 until 1999, Bary reportedly served as communication coordinator for the London cell of al-Qaeda, where he distributed messages from Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri to the media while also organizing press interviews for the two jihadist leaders.David J. Bier, “Profiles of Every Terrorism Vetting Failure in the Last 30 Years,” CATO Institute, April 17, 2018, https://www.cato.org/blog/profiles-every-terrorism-vetting-failure-last-30-years.

Bary’s London office, which was considered bin Laden’s “media information office,” was critical in facilitating military and security communication between various al-Qaeda cells—particularly Africa—and al-Qaeda’s headquarters. The communications included topics ranging from the recruitment of military trainees, the disbursement of funds, and the procurement of equipment.Martin Gould, “Father of Jihadi John suspect ‘was one of Bin Laden’s closest lieutenants’: Dad of Brit rapper accused of beheading James Foley is locked up in the US accused of helping to blow up two American embassies killing 224,” Daily Mail, August 24, 2014, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2733558/Father-Jihadi-John-one-Bin-Ladens-closest-lieutenants-currently-trial-US-embassy-bombings-killed-224-people.html.

On August 7, 1998, al-Qaeda operatives launched simultaneous suicide bombings at the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The attacks killed 258 people and wounded more than 5,000.“Osama Bin Laden: A Chronology of His Political Life,” PBS Frontline, accessed March 15, 2015, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/etc/cron.html. Although there was no evidence that Bary assisted in the bombing themselves—he was in London at the time—he was an active participant as he communicated frequently with al-Qaeda leadership and operatives and was aware that these high casualty attacks were being planned.“United States of America v. Adel Abdel Bary,” UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, January 10, 2015, https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/wp-content/uploads/baryadelgovtsentencing.pdf.

On July 12, 1999, Scotland Yard authorities arrested Bary on charges of conspiring with bin Laden and his terrorist network to kill Americans.“Two Arrested in U.S. Embassy Bombings,” Associated Press, July 12, 1999, https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/eafricabombing/eafricabombing.htm. After an ongoing legal battle between the U.S. and the U.K. governments, thirteen years later, on October 6, 2012, Bary was extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom. On September 19, 2014, he admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to conspiring with bin Laden in the 1998 embassy bombings.Rich Calder, “Dad of ‘John the Beatle’ suspect admits Osama terror plot,” New York Post, September 19, 2014, https://nypost.com/2014/09/19/dad-of-john-the-beatle-admits-to-98-embassy-bomb-plot-with-osama/. Bary was sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges of working on behalf of al-Qaeda and the EIJ on February 6, 2015.“International Terrorism Defendant Sentenced in Manhattan to 25 Years in Prison,” U.S. Department of Justice, February 6, 2015, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/international-terrorism-defendant-sentenced-manhattan-25-years-prison.

On December 11, 2020, Bary was released early from a U.S. prison and was deported to the United Kingdom. Bary, who is overweight and asthmatic, was considered high risk of contracting COVID-19. Upon his return to the U.K., M15 and counterterrorism police will review his return and resettlement.Fiona Hamilton, “Adel Abdel Bary: Bin Laden’s spokesman flies to Britain,” Times, December 12, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/adel-abdel-bary-uk-flight-hc0jtwcmg. In January 2021, it was reported that Bary was living in the Maida Vale neighborhood of London with his family in a house costing £1 million. Despite his early release for poor health, he has been reportedly seen walking around the area and “looked to be in good health.”“Former Al-Qaeda spokesman living in £1m house in London: Report,” Arab News, January 11, 2021, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1790826/world.

 
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