Terrorism: October 24, 2003

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The Kenya Airports Authority managing director announced that the US government is satisfied with the new security measures at Kenya's airports.
The airports authority got the police and the General Service Unit to increase their surveillance of sentry posts and perimeter fences, while Kenya Wildlife Service rangers will patrol and carry out surveillance at the nearby Nairobi National Park.

The police will also patrol aircraft approach and take-off routes in Rift Valley, Eastern, and Central Province (to foil potential missile-toting terrorists), while Mombasa and Kisumu had raised their surveillance levels. In Mombasa, Kenya Ports Authority and the Kenya Navy boats will also help to ensure security around Moi International Airport area.

One of the secondary effects that Al Qaeda and friends hope to achieve is to hurt the local economy. Kenya relies heavily on tourism, which can be easily damaged by the perception that terrorists can hit targets with ease. One local hotel chain is losing $26,000 a month in revenue, following the recent decision by a British tour firm to suspend flights to Mombasa.

Kenyan police also arrested the brother of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a key suspect in the failed November 2002 missile attack on an Israeli jet in Mombasa. The attack near the Moi International Airport occurred simultaneously with another against the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kikambala. Police suspect Saleh (who was due to appear before a Mombasa court on robbery charges before the attacks) could have fled to Somalia.

While prosecutors have substantial circumstantial evidence linking six Kenyans due to go on trial on October 27th for participation in the November bombing, there are no 'smoking guns'. 

According to a Kenyan police report seen by The Associated Press, Al-Qaida operatives planned to destroy the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in June with a truck bomb. A second group would to charter a small plane at Nairobi's Wilson Airport and pretend to Somalia with a payload of "khat". Instead, they planned to hijack the plane, load it with a bomb they called "jumbo" and fly it into the U.S. Embassy simultaneously with the first group.

This would explain why the U.S. Embassy was closed June 20-24 and why Kenyan officials banned flights from June 20-July 8 to and from Somalia. The U.S. Embassy refused to comment on the police report and Kenyan police officials were not immediately available. - Adam Geibel



 

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