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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs