NEW YORK — The first Guantanamo detainee to face a civilian trial is a “mass murderer” who played a key role in the terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, a prosecutor said Monday in closing arguments.

Defense claims that Ahmed Ghailani was an unwitting dupe in the plot “flies in the face of the evidence and it flies in the face of common sense,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Chertoff told jurors in federal court in Manhattan. However, prosecutors allege Ghailani helped an al-Qaida cell buy a truck and components for explosives used in a suicide bombing in his native Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998.

After the decision to put the 36-year-old detainee on trial in New York, a judge dealt the government a setback by barring testimony from a key witness identified by the CIA. Harsh interrogations techniques used by the CIA made the evidence unconstitutional, the judge ruled.

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