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June 10, 2011

Clinton Says Death of Embassy Bombing Suspect is Significant Blow for al-Qaida

by Scott Stearns

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the death of a man suspected of playing a key role in the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania is a significant blow to al-Qaida.

Secretary Clinton says Harun Fazul's death is “a significant blow to Al Qaeda, its extremist allies, and its operations in East Africa.”

In a written statement shortly after her arrival in Dar es Salaam, the secretary said it is a “just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and elsewhere - Tanzanians, Kenyans, Somalis” and U.S. embassy  personnel.

Somali authorities say the man believed to be al-Qaida's leader in East Africa was killed during a confrontation with police who says he was carrying thousands of dollars in cash and multiple identity documents including a suspicious South African passport.

Because of his suspected involvement in the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam bombings, the United States considered him among the most wanted international terrorists and offered a $5 million reward for his capture.

President Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism John Brennan says the death is a measure of justice to so many who lost loved ones because of his actions. Brennan says the Obama administration commends the efforts of Somali government forces, “whose actions against Fazul struck a significant blow against those in the region seeking to carry out terrorist attacks.”

The bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 13 years ago killed 224 people and wounded nearly 5,000 others. Bombs exploded in the two capitals minutes apart, without advance warning, and security officials quickly determined the coordinated attack was carried out by the al-Qaida network.

Four men involved in the attacks were convicted in the United States and sentenced to life in prison, but U.S. authorities were still actively seeking Fazul Mohammed and other suspects.

Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida's worldwide leader who was killed by American commandos in Pakistan last month, and the fugitive considered his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, were also charged with responsibility for the embassy bombings.

Secretary Clinton Sunday lays a wreath at a memorial for the 12 Tanzanians killed in the Dar es Salaam bombing.