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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) Source: http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20021201-062946-8682r UPI} UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL UPI} UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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 Union.

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 tourists.

"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 bombers.

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 ground.

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 the vehicle.

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 survive.

"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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