Skip to comments.Al Qaeda Targets US Nairobi Embassy – Again (Debka exclusive)
Posted on 07/28/2003 4:37:22 PM PDT by FairOpinion
Al Qaeda is again setting its sights on Kenya.
The United States has just finished building a spanking new embassy complex in Nairobi with the last word in counter-terror devices, a model for every American legation in the world. It replaces the building al Qaeda blasted in 1998 in twin attacks that hit the US embassy in Dar es-Salaam on the same day.
DEBKAfiles counter-terror and intelligence sources warn that the Islamist terrorists are poised to strike again in Kenya only eight months after bombing the Israeli-owned Paradise hotel in Mombasa and botching a shoulder-fired Strela rocket attack on an Israeli air charter. US intelligence believes al Qaeda is now very close to launching a multi-casualty, two-level operation against American and Israeli targets - possibly in a matter of days or even hours. Counter-terror authorities have gone on the highest alert.
According to information obtained from five al Qaeda members recently detained in Mombasa, al Qaedas East Africa operations commander, Muhammed Fazoul has designed a stratagem for overcoming the new US embassys state of the art defenses. A truck bomb will blow up in or near the embassy complex, followed swiftly by a light plane packed with explosives flying over and crashing on the confused tangle of victims and rescuers below. Two suicide terrorists will be used.
The detainees who parted with this information include the head of the Mombasa mosque and girls seminary, known only as Said, who is a leading al Qaeda light, and the Imam of the central mosque of Mombasa, Aboud.
Fazoul, an Egyptian, is wanted for orchestrating every large-scale terrorist hit in this part of Africa since the early 1990s. It is a little-known fact that he first showed his paces in October 1993, when he commanded the al Qaeda force behind the Mogadishu battle between Farah Aidids Somalia militia and American commandos. In their first major combat engagement after Vietnam; American troops suffered heavy losses.
US special forces, after him for years, have been unable to catch up with the slippery Egyptian despite numerous leads to his whereabouts. In September 1998, shortly after the attacks on the Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam embassies, an American raiding party burst into a house in Moroni, capital of the Comoros Islands. The bird appeared to have just flown leaving behind him in his haste a computer containing files detailing al Qaedas organization and spread around the world, including the Persian Gulf, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Far East and Afghanistan.
That data was later found to have been planted as a decoy to muddy the trails of al Qaeda cells worldwide.
DEBKAfiles counter-terror sources further reveal that Fazoul conceived the idea of planting Islamist terrorists in tiny fishing villages along the shores of the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, who were willing to perform the lowliest jobs as craftsmen, fishermen and small boat builders. After settling in, they were told to marry local women and blend into village life as sleepers. Fazoul would contact them, often years later, and activate them as terrorists. Numerous sleeper cells are still deployed in this way in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the African coast. When roused to action, they become al Qaedas naval raider arm. One such unit seized Ethiopian Airways flight 961 in 1996, landing it in Comoran waters after murdering the CIA Addis Abeba agent and seven Israeli Aviation Industries heads while still airborne. Abandoning the wounded and the crippled plan, the skyjackers sailed off and were never captured.
Eight months ago, Fazoul added new flourishes for the attacks on Israeli targets in Mombasa. After a car crammed with explosives crashed into a wall of the Paradise hotel, a light plane flew overhead and tossed explosive charges on wings that had escaped the first blast, setting the entire hotel ablaze.
DEBKAfile reported at the time that this was al Qaedas first aerial bombardment. Later, there were reports that Fazoul and his team had escaped the scene of destruction to Somalia by plane and fast boat.
The description of his latest scheme indicates that Fazoul wants to deploy his tiny air force of light craft once more against the new US embassy in Nairobi.
DEBKAfiles counter terror sources reveal that Fazoul found al Qaedas Mombasa strike team still at large in Kenya and ready to join his latest enterprise. By now, Fazoul must be aware that the Americans are onto his scheme. He may therefore go first for other targets, like the Israeli or British embassies, foreign airlines calling at Kenyan airports or tourist sites frequented by Israelis. But terror experts familiar with Fazouls his modus operandi warn that he is stubborn and not lightly put off an objective he sets himself.
For the second time this year, the American and British governments have therefore cautioned their diplomatic personnel in Kenya to be vigilant in case of terrorist attack. Some non-essential personnel have been evacuated, leaving the Nairobi embassy with a depleted staff. Tourists have also been advised to give Kenya a wide berth till the danger has passed. The Israeli and British governments have cancelled flights to the country.
Debka is the name of an Israeli folk dance. The site comes from Israel, and seems to run the leavings of Israeli intelligence. Some of their items are stuff that was new yesterday, and hence, though true, is no longer vital, and so gets passed on to Debka. Some of it is stuff that an intelligence officer said, "Why are you putting this crap on my desk? Give it to Debka!"
There is also a steady tone of marginally anti-American doomsaying. In the big picture, Debka supports the United States, thought 9/11 was terrorism, etc., etc. But in virtually every specific case, it takes the view that Americans are dumb cattle who don't know what they're doing. I assume this attitude is compounded from 1) the desire for sensationalist copy 2) Israeli arrogance more common before the intafadas than now, but still sometimes surfacing: only we understand the region, only we know how to fight, and so forth and so on.
Posted at 09:47 PM
'The Corner' in National Review, March 23, 2003)
I have no idea whether Debka's report deserves to be given any credence or not.
I frankly find Debka more reliable than the NY Times, for instance.
As the man says, when it comes to Debka, caveat lector.
On one hand they were ahead of the curve when they reported that we were building a ring of bases around the Middle East in order to, among other things, isolate and put pressure in Iran.
On the other hand they reported such things as a mutiny on an American nuclear sub by Muslim sailors and that the Iraqis would mount a fierce house-to-house battle for Baghdad.