TOPICS > World

Background: Terror in Kenya

November 29, 2002 at 12:00 AM EDT


TIM EWART: At the Paradise Hotel today, investigators were still picking through the rubble and fires were still burning more than 24 hours after the attack. Kenya’s president, Daniel Arap Moi, inspected the damage and called it an outrage. He offered cash to the families of Kenyan victims and his sympathies to the Israelis.

PRESIDENT DANIEL ARAP MOI, Kenya: I must send my condolences to those who lost their loved ones.

TIM EWART: This amateur video captured the scene in the hotel lobby moments before the bombers struck.

SPOKESMAN: Welcome to Africa.

TIM EWART: As the hotel was engulfed in flames and smoke, terrified tourists fled down to the beach for safety. Today, a detonator was found in the rubble. Investigators here will soon finish sifting through what’s left of the Paradise Hotel and its Israeli owners will have to decide whether it’s worth rebuilding. The Kenyans, meanwhile, are left to contemplate the long-term damage that may have been done to their vital tourist industry. But the Israelis won’t return any time soon. The last survivors from the Paradise Hotel have now flown home.

The Kenyans left behind are mourning their nine dead. Kadzo Masha lost her daughter Kafeda, one of the local dancers killed at the hotel. She said, “I don’t understand. I’ve never even heard of Israel.” Kafeda’s friends remembered her with a dance called the catcher. It is performed here at funerals.

GARY GIBBON: Kenyan police say they’ve detained 12 individuals in connection with yesterday’s attacks. Authorities say two of those detained are said to have addresses in the United States. The car bomb attack on the Paradise Hotel left 16 dead: Ten Kenyans, three Israelis and three suicide bombers. The Israeli dead and some of the wounded from the hotel bombing have been arriving back in Israel. The Israeli prime minister said the spilling of Israeli blood would be avenged.

The car bomb matched the tactics of the Bali bombing, but the failed airport attack suggested a new departure for al-Qaida and its sympathizers. Ever since the U.S. Discovered al-Qaida training videos instructing supporters in how to fire shoulder-held missiles, Washington’s been fearing an attack on a civilian airliner. Early this month, the U.S. Government briefed U.S. Airline bosses that such an attack could happen within the United States. The abandoned missile launcher found by Mombasa airport has been identified as a Soviet-built Strella, an updated version of the SAM-7 missile. Some military experts think those firing the missile may have lacked proper training.

DOUG RICHARDSON: It may have been in the hands of users who weren’t fully trained. They’re not easy things to operate. The layman sort of imagines that you just put this thing on your shoulder, press the button and away it goes. It’s not really like that. Yes, you put the thing up on your shoulder, and you say, “Right, I’m going to try and engage a target.” You switch the thing on. Now you’ve energized it. It’s consuming coolant, it’s consuming electrical power. It’s use it or lose it.

GARY GIBBON: The Strella missile can hit targets up to around three miles away, well beyond the security perimeter of any airport. It was designed to hit targets at an altitude of up to 10,000 feet, but most Strellas are past their sell-by date and their targeting ability is unreliable. The heat-seeking sensors often are no longer working, and that may be what saved the passengers taking off yesterday morning for Tel Aviv.