Terror in Kenya
[Sorry, the video for this story has expired, but you can still read the transcript below. ]
LINDSEY HILSUM: As the Paradise hotel smoldered, Kenyan troops rushed to the scene. The blast being heard 12 miles away in Mombasa. Two Israeli teen-aged brothers and one Israeli adult were killed. The Paradise hotel, like several others on the Kenyan coast, has many Israelis and the security was believed to be tight. These pictures of traditional Kenyan dancers were taken just before the blast. The target was clearly the Israelis. But the majority of the dead were Kenyans, performing a welcoming ceremony to the visitors.
SPOKESPERSON: It was a very big bomb near the lobby. And the whole roof started to go on fire, and I think the most people that got hurt… some of the people that were welcoming us also got hurt.
MAN: I wake up, I see all the fire, many people they cry, many people had a problem.
LINDSEY HILSUM: The injured suffering from burns, broken limbs and shock, were taken to hospital in Mombasa. Some are reported to be seriously hurt. Meanwhile, casings from two SAM 7 surface-to-air missiles were found near Mombasa airport. Such missiles are commonly used in the civil wars in Somalia and Sudan, and this morning used to fire on the Israeli charter plane as it took off. The returning passengers were unaware of their near miss, until the pilot announced it an hour before landing, and they saw two Israeli F-15 fighters escorting them home. They landed safely. Relatives had been waiting anxiously at the airport in Tel Aviv since early morning, only too aware of how close to disaster the plane had come.
MAN: While taking off on the runway, we heard a boom, I saw, I was just behind the left wing, and I saw just like a flashlight of something.
RAFI MARIK, Charter Pilot: We saw two white stripes coming up from behind the airplane on the left side, and a bit above us. And passing us from behind to the front of the airplane and disappearing after a few seconds.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Technicians inspected the plane. Israelis have grown used to attacks at home from Palestinian extremists, but despite the claims from the previously unknown Army of Palestine based in Beirut, the government assume this is was the work of al-Qaida.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: It’s just a question of time before they’ll down civilian aircraft. And may I say, it always begins with Israel, it never ends with Israel. So this is not just our battle, it’s a common battle against this global terror network.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Osama bin Laden hasn’t previously attacked the Israelis. And the American government says it’s too early to assign blame. But in an audio message last month, bin Laden included Israel in his list of potential targets. And the Kenyans have few doubts.
JOHN SAWE, Kenyan Ambassador to Israel: There is no doubt in my mind that the al-Qaida is behind this attack, because we have no problem in our country. We have no domestic problem. We have no terrorism in our country.
LINDSEY HILSUM: This is the second major terrorist attack in Kenya. In 1998 a vehicle loaded with explosives like the one at the hotel today was driven into the American embassy in the capital, Nairobi. Investigation showed the bombers were linked to al-Qaida. More than 200 people were killed. Most of them Kenyan. And in recent years, many Kenyan Muslims have been radicalized. Some resent the Israeli presence in Kenya. But other Kenyans and the government are horrified. Tourism had only just recovered after the 1998 attack, the economy remains depressed, and as in 1998, the majority of victims are Kenyans.