News / Africa

Kenya Marks 15th Anniversary of US Embassy Bombings

People lay flowers at the U.S. Embassy bombing memorial site in Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 7, 2013, to mark the 15-year anniversary of the 1998 embassy bombing which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more.
People lay flowers at the U.S. Embassy bombing memorial site in Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 7, 2013, to mark the 15-year anniversary of the 1998 embassy bombing which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more.
Gabe Joselow
— Wednesday marks the 15th anniversary of the attacks on the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania that killed more than 224 people and wounded thousands more.  The terror threat in East Africa has changed since then.

Fifteen years ago, a suicide bomber drove a truck packed with explosives up to the gates of the U.S. embassy in downtown Nairobi.

When the guard at the entrance would not let the driver into the basement garage, the bomber set off the explosives outside, killing more than 200 people, most of them Kenyan.  A similar attack was launched at the same time on the U.S. embassy in Tanzania.

Joash Okindo was the guard at the gate, whose argument with the driver, and refusal to let him pass, probably saved a lot of lives.  His legs were broken in the attack, but, as he stands here today at a memorial service for the victims, he knows it could have been worse.

“I’m still alive. The only problem is that I was injured. Struggling. In life you have to struggle,” he said.

In the blink of an eye, the al-Qaida terrorist group made known its presence in East Africa, and brought the group’s leader Osama Bin Laden to the attention of the U.S. government.

Since then, Bin Laden has been killed, as has the alleged mastermind of the attack, Fazul Mohammed.  Four other men were convicted in the United States and sentenced to life in prison.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s security forces have struggled to contain an evolving terrorist threat in the region.

Much of the focus has been on Somalia's al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants, who use Kenya to seek out new recruits and financing. 

Al-Shabab has been blamed for cross-border kidnappings and other attacks in Kenya, which prompted the military to enter Somalia two years ago to confront the group head on.

At the embassy memorial ceremony, Nairobi County Speaker Alex Ole Magelo said Kenyans should unite in support of the government’s anti-terrorism operations.

“We individually and collectively, we must support the government.  I know the government is doing all in its power to curb terrorism.  But as you can see, terrorism in this country took a turn for the worst when we had the homegrown terrorists,” he said.

Last year, Kenyan lawmakers passed the country’s first-ever anti-terrorism law, which gives security forces the right to arrest terrorism suspects, to seize property and intercept communications.

But rights groups said police have been committing serious abuses under the guise of anti-terrorism, with raids and arrests targeting Somali refugee communities and Muslim communities on the coast.

And nearly every week, the newspapers report on another so-called terrorism suspect gunned down by police.

Rahma Gulam Abbas is the acting director of the Kenyan Muslim human rights group Muhuri.

“We have documented people living in fear," said Abbas. "Once you are a suspect of terror, you just know that the end result is you are killed.  There is no due process that is taken.”

Abbas said Kenya’s anti-terrorism law was not so different from the sweeping legislation passed in the United States after 9/11.

The United States has also been on high alert this week after intercepting a message from al-Qaida indicating plans for an attack.

The State Department has closed 19 embassies in the Middle East and Africa, including Rwanda and Burundi.  However, neither Kenya nor Tanzania were on the list.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid