1998 United States embassy bombings: Wikis

  
  
  

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Aftermath at the Nairobi embassy.

In the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings (August 7, 1998) hundreds of people were killed in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the major East African cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The attacks, linked to local members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad brought Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to American attention for the first time, and resulted in the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation placing bin Laden on its Ten Most Wanted list.

Contents

Motivation and preparation

A Nissan Atlas truck, similar to that used in Dar es-Salaam

The bombings are widely believed to have been revenge for American involvement in the extradition, and alleged torture, of four members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) who had been arrested in Albania in the two months prior to the explosions and extradited to Egypt.[1]Between June and July, Ahmad Isma'il 'Uthman Saleh, Ahmad Ibrahim al-Sayyid al-Naggar, Shawqi Salama Mustafa Atiya and Mohamed Hassan Tita were all renditioned from Albania to Egypt, with the cooperation of the United States, accused of participating in the assassination of Rifaat el-Mahgoub, as well as a later plot against the Khan el-Khalili market in Cairo.[2] The following month, a communique was issued warning the United States that a "response" was being prepared to repay them for their interference.[3][4]

According to journalist Lawrence Wright, the Nairobi operation was named after the Holy Kaaba in Mecca; the Dar es Salaam bombing was called Operation al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, but "neither had an obvious connection to the American embassies in Africa. Bin Laden initially said that the sites had been targeted because of the 'invasion' of Somalia; then he described an American plan to partition Sudan, which he said was hatched in the embassy in Nairobi. He also told his followers that the genocide in Rwanda had been planned inside the two American embassies."

Wright concludes that none of these claims made sense, and that bin Laden's actual goal was "to lure the United States into Afghanistan, which had long been called 'The Graveyard of Empires.'"[5] According to a 1998 memo authored by Mohammed Atef and seized by the FBI, around the time of the attacks, al-Qaeda had both an interest in and specific knowledge of negotiations between the Taliban and the American-led gas pipeline consortium CentGas.[6]

In May 1998 a villa in Nairobi was purchased by one of the bombers for the purpose of accommodating bomb building in the garage. Ahmad Salim Swedan purchased a beige Toyota Dyna truck in Nairobi, and a 1987 Nissan Atlas refrigeration truck in Dar es-Salaam. Six metal bars were used to form a "cage" on the back of the Atlas, to accommodate the bomb.[7]

In June 1998, KK Mohamed rented House 213 in the Illala district of Dar es Salaam, about four miles from the U.S. Embassy. A white Suzuki Samurai was used to haul bomb components hidden in rice sacks, from House 213.

In both Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Mohammed Odeh supervised construction of two massive, 2,000-pound destructive devices. The Nairobi bomb was made of 400 to 500 cylinders of TNT (about the size of soda cans), aluminum nitrate, aluminum powder and detonating cord. The explosives were packed into some twenty specially designed wooden crates that were sealed and then placed in the bed of the trucks. Abdel Rahman ran a wire from the bomb to a set of batteries in the back of the truck cab and then to a detonator switch beneath the dashboard.[7] The Dar es Salaam bomb used a slightly different construction: the TNT was attached to fifteen oxygen tanks and gas canisters, and was surrounded with four bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and some sand bags to tamp and direct the blast.[8]

The bombings were scheduled for August 7, the eighth anniversary of the arrival of American troops in Saudi Arabia, ostensibly a deliberate choice by Osama bin Laden.[9]

Attacks and casualties

Wreckage from the Nairobi bombing.

On August 7, between 10:30 am and 10:40 am local time (3:30–3:40 am Washington time), suicide bombers in trucks laden with explosives parked outside the embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, and almost simultaneously detonated.[10] In Nairobi, approximately 212 people were killed, and an estimated 4,000 wounded; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[11] Seismological readings analyzed after the bombs indicated energy of between 3–17 tons of high explosive material.[12] Although the attacks were directed at American facilities, the vast majority of casualties were local citizens, 12 Americans were killed:[13]

While driver Azzam drove the Mitsubishi Canter quickly toward the Nairobi embassy along with Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali,[14] local security guard Benson Okuku Bwaku was warned to open the gate immediately – and fired upon when he refused to comply. Al-Owhali threw a stun grenade at embassy guards before exiting the vehicle, and running off.[15] Osama bin Laden later offered the explanation that it had been his intention to leap out and shoot the guards to clear a path for the truck, but that he had left his pistol in the truck and subsequently ran off.[14] As Bwaku radioed to Marine Post One for backup, the truck detonated.[15]

The explosion demolished a full half of the Embassy building and also shattered windows in the Uffizi Cooperative House, a neighboring 21-floor office skyscraper.

Meanwhile, the Atlas truck in Dar es Salaam was being driven by Hamdan Khalif Alal, known as "Ahmed the German" due to his blonde hair, a former camp trainer who had arrived in the country only a few days earlier.[7]

Following the attacks, a group calling itself the "Liberation Army for Holy Sites" took credit for the bombings. American investigators believe the term was a cover used by Egyptian Islamic Jihad, who had actually perpetrated the bombing.[16]

List of fatalities

Americans Killed
Sgt. Jesse Nathaniel Aliganga, Marine Julian Bartley, Consul General Jay Bartley, son of Bartley Jean Dalizu, Defense Attache's Office
Molly H. Hardy, Administrative Office SSgt. Kenneth Ray Hobson jr, Army Prabhi Kavaler, GSO Arlene Bradley Kirk, Military Assistance Office
Mary Louise Martin, CDC MSgt. Sherry Lynn Olds, Air Force Ann Michelle O'Connor, GSO Uttamlal Thomas Shah, Political Section
Tanzanians Killed
Abdulahaman Abdulah Elisha Paulo Elia Hassan Siyad Harane Ramadhani H Mahundi Mtendeje Rajabu Mbegu Abdallah Mohamed
Abas William Mwila Almosaria Yussuf Mzee Shamte Yusuph Ndale Bakari Yusuph Nyumbo Dotto Seleman
Kenyans Killed
Bontia Achola Samson Oduor Ahomo Margaret Akinyi John Amos Wangai Sylia Ambasa Elizabeth Anyango
Monica Apondi Patricia Atieno Allan Sabato Bando Rosetta Baraza Sharon Wangechi Gladys Wangui
Chrispine Bonyo Daniel Kiprono Cheruiyot Margaret Wangui Sheikh Fahat Eva Nyanjau Gacheru Jane Wangui Gacheru
Alice Nduta Gachiri Raphael Johnson Gathumbi Agnes Wanjiru Gitau Lawrence Ambrose Gitau Joel Kamau Githumbi Benard Mugambi Gitonga
Susan Wairimu Gitu Rosemary Njeri Gituma Hassan Hukay Guracha Burhan Aden Hanshi Mercy Wanjiku John Mwangi Wanyoike
Anthony Kihato Irungu George Irungu Jane Wangari Itotia Dorine Aluoch Jow John Karoki Kahuthu Geoffrey Kaleo
Francis Kihara Kamuti Lawrence Gitau Kamuti Margaret Wanjiku Kangi Charles Mugo Karanja Lucy Nyawira Karigi Moses Kariuki
Christine Wairumu Karumba Margaret Wasike Francis Kibe Jackline Nyawira Kibera Felistus Njeri Kimani Rael Mburi Kimani
Stephen Maina Kimani Simon Kinuthia Joe Kiongo Margret Njeri Waweru Frnacis Kabathi Kiu Dominic Kivuva
David Ndula Koimburi Julian Kwali Peter Mbevi Kyelo Moses Muli Kyule Emmanuel Machambele Denis R Madegwa
Ann Mumbi Maina Frank Maina Lidiah Ndinda Maingi Cecelia Mamboleo Fredrick Maloba Yafes James Otieno Masea
Anne Nyambura Mathenge Pity Mwihaki Mathenge Simon Peter Ngumo Matu June Mary Maweu Lydia Mukuri Mayaka Doreen Mbayaki
Francis Mbogo Francis Ndungu Mbogua Rachael Kabendi Mboya Lucy Waruthi Mbunya Stephen Waweru Mburu James Mathenge Migwi
Elizabeth Onyango Mito Ahmed Warko Mohammed Luciano Mugambi Justus Njeru Mugendi Gilbert Mugo Peter Irungu Mugo
Josphat Mutua Muia Edward Mukaya Loise Njeri Mukoma Samuel Vondo Mulalia Francis Mukenye Muleki Thomas Mundanyi
Benson Wathigu Muniri Caroline Mumbi Muraguri Tirus Muraguri Catherine Mureithi Frida Wambui Muritu Alice Waruguru Muriuki
Mary Wanjiku Muriuki Robert Migwi Muriuki Ruth Mwkai Musyoka Wilson Kipkorir Mutai Florence Mwende Muthama Emmanuel Njaga Muthuria
Daniel Maundu Mutinda Josphine Nzilani Mutinda Catherine Ndumi Mutua Caroline Karambo Mutuiiri Gloria Ngatha Mutuiiri Geofrey Munyiri Mutunga
Patrick Kariuki Muturi Gabriel Mwandime Harrison Njuguna Mwangi Naftali Mwangi Roseline Wanjiku Mwangi Samuel Githua Mwangi
Moses Aston Mwani Ann Mwaniki Isack Mugera Mwaria Pamela Mboya Mwenge Edwin Mungai Mweya Abdalla Musyoki Mwilu
Nkruma Tonny Myizala Moses Namayi Mary Nyaga Ndirango Caroline Ndolo Martin K Nduati Julius Ndulu
Edwin Paul Ndumbi Ephrahim Kingori Ndungu Peter Njoroge Ndungu Joyce Njeri Ng'ang'a John Mwangi Ngaragari Peter Macharia Ngugi
Abel Mugambi Njau Simon Mwangi Njima Catherine Wambara Njoka Agatha Njoki Jacinta Njoki Francis Ndungu Njoroge
Grace Nyambura Njoroge William Waithaka Njoroge Godfrey Muchori Njuguna Patrick Njuguna Beatric Nyambura Michael Oduor Nyandeba
Elizabeth Nyarotso Vincent Kamau Nyoike Janet Ndoome Nzioka Kimeu Nzioka Magdaline Mbithe Nzioka Joseph Ngove Nzwili
Margret Atieno Obonya Joshua Aneah Obonyo Fredrick Ebra Ochieng Michael Ochieng Francis Olewe Ochilo Lawrence Olum Ochoka
Duncan Odhiambo Emma Odhiambo John Odhiambo Oduor Maurice Okach Oholla Simon Otieno Olang Kitalian Olotono
Hanson Nyabera Omae Hindu Omari Edwin Omori Enock Omweno Lucy Onono Eric Obur Onyango
John Ouko Onyango Caroline Opati Silvia Oriendo Godfrey Okoro Orono Elizabeth Achieng Orwa Evans Osongo
Dominic Alango Otieno Elias Otieno Julius Otieno Mathew Walunya Otieno Rogers Otoro Elijah Ngito Owino
Josiah Odera Owuor Rachael Pussy Margret Llello Rading Ruth Mukami Rungu Joseph Ondari Salamba Timothy Odhiambo Sande
Ann Mumo Zakayo Hassan Jarso Soka Shadrack Nyaga Thito Samuel Mbugua Thuo Phaema Vrontamis Gloria Wangechi Wachira
Shadrack Mwangi Maganyu James Mwangi Wainaina Teresia Kiongo Wairimu Sabena Walter Adams Wamai Rachel Wambui
John Gitau Wamutwe David Soita Wanabacha Unidentified male

Aftermath and international response

In response to the bombings, U.S. President Bill Clinton ordered Operation Infinite Reach, a series of cruise missile strikes on targets in Sudan and Afghanistan on August 20, 1998, announcing the planned strike in a primetime address on American television. In Sudan, the missiles destroyed the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory, where 50% of Sudan's medications for both people and animals were manufactured. The Clinton Administration claimed that there was ample evidence to prove that the plant produced chemical weapons, but a thorough investigation after the missile strikes revealed that the intelligence was unreliable.[17]

The embassies were heavily damaged, and the one in Nairobi, Kenya had to be rebuilt. It is now located across the road from the UNWFP office, for security purposes. A few months after the attacks and subsequent American missile strikes in Afghanistan, the American energy company Unocal withdrew its plans for a gas pipeline through Afghanistan.[18]

On June 1, 2007, the USS Chafee fired its deck guns at suspected hideouts of an Al-Qaeda suspect by the name of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah who is one of the listed as responsible for the bombings, in the Puntland region of Somalia. It has not been reported if the shelling was successful or not.[19]

The indictment

The current indictment charges the following twenty-one people for various alleged roles in this crime.[20]

Osama bin Laden, at large Ayman al Zawahiri, at large
Saif al Adel, at large Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, at large
Anas al Liby, at large Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, at large
Ahmed Mohammed Hamed Ali, at large Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam, killed in Pakistan in 2009
Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, killed in Pakistan in 2009 Muhammad Atef, killed in Afghanistan in 2001
Muhsin Musa Matwalli Atwah, killed in Pakistan in 2006 Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil, unknown
Wadih el Hage, serving life without parole since 2001[21] Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, serving life without parole since 2001[21]
Mohamed al-'Owhali, serving life without parole since 2001[21] Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, serving life without parole since 2001[21]
Khalid al Fawwaz, held in the UK since 1998 Ibrahim Eidarous, held under house arrest in the UK since 1999. Died of leukemia in 2008.
Adel Abdel Bary, held in the UK since 1999 Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, arrested in 1998, held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp[22]
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, arrested in 2004, held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp[22] before being transferred to New York[23]

References

  1. ^ Jane Mayer, The Dark Side, Doubleday. p.114
  2. ^ Victoria Advocate, Bombings connect to mysterious arrests, August 13, 1998
  3. ^ Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Summary of the Security Intelligence Report concerning Mahmoud Jaballah, February 22, 2008. Appendix A.
  4. ^ Higgins, Andrew. Wall Street Journal, "A CIA-Backed Team Used Brutal Means to Crack Terror Cell", November 20, 2001
  5. ^ Wright, Lawrence, Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, by Lawrence Wright, NY, Knopf, 2006, p.272
  6. ^ Brisard, Jean-Charles (2002-06-05). "Al-Qaida monitored U.S. negotiations with Taliban over oil pipeline". Salon.com. http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2002/06/05/memo/. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  7. ^ a b c Benjamin, Daniel & Steven Simon. "The Age of Sacred Terror", 2002
  8. ^ books.google.ca
  9. ^ Rohan Gunaratna 2002: Inside Al Qaeda, page 46
  10. ^ "U.S. Embassy Bombings". U.S. Department of State website. http://usinfo.state.gov/is/international_security/terrorism/embassy_bombings.html. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  11. ^ "Online NewsHour - African Embassy Bombings". PBS.org. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/africa/embassy_bombing/map.html. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  12. ^ http://web.mst.edu/~rogersda/umrcourses/ge342/Forensic%20Seismology-revised.pdf
  13. ^ "Profiles of Americans killed in Kenya embassy bombing". CNN.com. 1998-08-13. http://www.cnn.com/US/9808/13/bomb.victims.profile/. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  14. ^ a b Ressa, Maria. "Seeds of Terror", 2003.
  15. ^ a b Katz, Samuel M. "Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the manhunt for the al-Qaeda terrorists", 2002
  16. ^ Global Briefings, Issue 27, "Osama bin Laden tied to other Fundamentalists", September 1998.
  17. ^ Barletta, Michael. “Chemical Weapons in the Sudan: Allegations and Evidence.” Nonproliferation Review. Monterey Institute of International Studies 6:1 (1998): 5–48. [1]
  18. ^ "Business Digest". New York Times. 1998-12-05. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.htmlres=9F04E3DD1E3BF936A35751C1A96E958260&sec=&spon=&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  19. ^ From MSNBC.com
  20. ^ Copy of indictment USA v. Osama bin Laden et al., Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies
  21. ^ a b c d Four embassy bombers get life, CNN, 21 October 2001
  22. ^ a b Press release about 14 Guantanamo inmates, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  23. ^ [2]

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