Terrorist links in Kenya bombing ambiguous (UPI-UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL) KIKAMBALA, Kenya With additional reporting by Anwar Iqbal, Carolyn Ayon Lee and Shaun Waterman in Washington and Joshua Brilliant in Tel Aviv, Israel 12/01/02 7:20 PM)
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KIKAMBALA, Kenya, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Investigators Sunday remained
unsure whether the terrorists who attacked a resort hotel in the East
African port of Mombasa are linked to al Qaida, as Israel Army radio
reported, or a terrorist group based in Somalia, but the U.S. State
Department warned American tourists away from the area.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz Sunday told the Cabinet that
suspicions that al Qaida was involved in the attack
were "increasing," but that there was no clear evidence of their
involvement, an aide to the minister said.
The Nairobi Daily Nation newspaper Sunday said that investigators on
the scene say no link has yet been established between the terrorists
and al Qaida but that such a link is not being ruled out.
Israeli Army radio, meanwhile, said the terrorists were led by al
Qaida members Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah and Faed Ali Sayam. The United
States, at the same time, is pointing a finger at the Somali
extremist group Al-Itihad al-Islamiya, also known as the Islamic
The U.S. State Department late Saturday renewed its warnings about
traveling to Yemen, adding Djibouti to East African destinations
where "credible reports" say terrorists associated with al Qaida have
planned attacks against American citizens.
Kenya´s President Daniel arap Moi told reporters that all of Africa,
as well as the United States and Europe, are in the terrorists´
crosshairs, but that Kenya remains safe as a vacation destination,
The Daily Nation reported.
A U.S. citizen and her husband, backpackers from Florida, were freed
Saturday after being among those questioned by Kenyan police about
the two terror attacks against Israelis near the East African port.
Kenyan authorities, aided by U.S. and Israeli security officers,
determined that the pair had no involvement in the explosion that
destroyed the Paradise Hotel and killed 13 people and three suicide
bombers, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.
At the scene, Israeli forensic investigators searched for DNA and
body parts, with help from U.S. Embassy staff and Israeli troops, the
San Jose Mercury News reported in its Saturday edition.
Tel Aviv had also dispatched doctors and medical and other
humanitarian supplies to the hotel site in the beachfront town of
Kikambala, some 50 miles northeast of Mombasa.
The Israelis flew home the dead, the wounded, the other passengers as
well as the wounded Kenyan hotel receptionist.
The 261 tourists aboard the Israeli charter flight, which had been
targeted in the simultaneous dual terror attacks Thursday morning,
returned to Tel Aviv. Two shoulder-launched missiles narrowly missed
the Tel Aviv-bound airliner.
Sacred items that had been in the Paradise Hotel´s synagogue -- two
arks containing Torah scrolls -- also were shipped back to Israel,
the Mercury News said. The hotel had been popular with Israeli
"We believe there are Muslims in the group" of people still being
held, Police Commissioner Philemon Abong´o said. "We are not saying
they´re suspects yet," he added, saying some had not been able to
explain their identities or backgrounds when questioned.
The American woman who had been detained was identified as Alice
Kalhammer of Florida, Ben K. Wafula, a Kenyan hotel manager, told The
Mercury News. The man was described as being a Spaniard with U.S.
residency. The BBC gave his name as Jose Tena.
"There are no hard feelings (about the detention)," Kalhammer told
the BBC on Saturday. "We love Kenya."
The remaining 10 still being questioned were six Pakistanis and four
Somalis, CNN reported, but there was confusion about their
identities. The BBC said one of them was a Kenyan national. The
Kenyan paper Daily Nation said five Pakistanis and two Somalis --
arrested earlier because of suspicions about their passports, which
had all been issued on the same day in the Somali capital Mogadishu --
were being questioned in relation to the attacks.
Rescue workers found another corpse Friday in the debris of the
Paradise Hotel, bringing the death toll to 16, including the three
In a sign suggesting careful advance planning, men believed to be the
terrorists driving a dark, blue-green four-wheel-drive vehicle had
been spotted in the area about three months ago, said Nyeri Charo,
34, whose neighboring shop and restaurant were also burned to the
They had been driving up and down the dusty road near the beach for
several weeks, taking pictures of the hotel´s common areas, he said.
Charo said they were of Arab or Somali appearance.
"They filmed the hotel, and now we know what their motive was," he
added bitterly, ashes swirling around him from the fire that
destroyed his shop.
"The guards were afraid. I don´t know if they told the police or not."
Thursday, the three came back to blow up the resort.
Witnesses say they saw the four-wheel-drive vehicle burst through the
hotel gate around 8:35 a.m. One man got out of the car and blew
himself up inside the hotel while the others detonated explosives in
Those slain included three Israelis -- a 61-year-old man, who was the
tour guide, and two adolescent brothers ages 12 and 13. The other 10
were Kenyans -- mostly members of a traditional dance troupe
welcoming a large group of Israeli tourists who had just checked in.
The slain Kenyan dancers in many cases were the primary wage earners
for their families. Their children and wives don´t know how they will
"He was the man we depended on," Aisha, wife of Safari Yaa, who was
the leader of the dance troupe, told the Los Angeles Times in its
Saturday edition. "We don´t know what we´re going to do without him."
Bodies of three of the dancers were being held at a mortuary because
a bill had not been paid, relatives told the Daily Nation newspaper.
Kafedha Mramba, who also was killed, had supported herself and her
three children from the tips she got from dancing at the Paradise
Hotel, the Times said.
FBI investigators immediately flew to the coast from the capital
Nairobi. The bureau had investigated the bombing of the U.S.
embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, in neighboring Tanzania, in
1998 that killed 226 people and injured more than 5,000.
The attacks came as some 180 U.S. Marines from a carrier group in the
region came ashore in Lamu to train with Kenyan troops. The Marines
are part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a group of warships
off the coast of Djibouti in the Red Sea near the Gulf of Aden.
The missiles apparently used in the attack on the Arkia airliner -- a
Boeing 757-300 -- were said by several experts who saw pictures of
them to be Soviet-made SA-7, or Strelas.
According to Jane´s Defense Web site, it is a shoulder-launched heat-
seeking missile of the simple "fire-and-forget" type that requires
little training or skill to use.
(With additional reporting by Anwar Iqbal, Carolyn Ayon Lee and Shaun
Waterman in Washington and Joshua Brilliant in Tel Aviv, Israel.)
(Copyright © 2002 United Press International 12/01/02)
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