WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 - A suspected member of Al Qaeda who prosecutors say
once talked with Ahmed Omar Abu Ali about assassinating President Bush was
killed by Saudi authorities in a shootout 17 months ago, the Justice
Department disclosed on Wednesday.
The disclosure that a potential witness in the case is dead could
complicate the prosecution of Mr. Abu Ali on terrorism charges in an
indictment against him that was unsealed in Virginia on Tuesday.
It came as prosecutors called Mr. Abu Ali a danger to society and urged
that he be held without bail.
The discussions in Saudi Arabia about killing Mr. Bush were used in the
indictment of Mr. Abu Ali, an American who had traveled there to study. He
was arrested there in 2003 and was held there without charges until this week.
''It now turns out the only other witness to these supposed conversations
about killing the president is dead, and that raises questions about how
the government is going to prove its case,'' said Edward B. MacMahon Jr., a
lawyer for Mr. Abu Ali. ''I think they've got a problem…'