AFRICAN OUTRAGE

The carnage occurred in East Africa, but all eyes gradually moved to the Middle East, the likeliest origin of the men who planned and carried out the bombings at the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam on August 7.

At first, the prime suspect behind the bombings, which cost more than 240 lives, was the Islamist Saudi millionaire, Osama bin Ladin, who from his exile in Afghanistan has threatened several times in recent months to drive the Americans from the Middle East. Security analysts have also suggested a conspiracy comprising Bin Ladin's followers, and elements from Sudan and Iraq.

The Arabic daily Al-Hayat said a group had claimed responsibility calling itself the "The Liberation Army for the Islamic Sanctuaries", saying it had been inspired by several Muslim clerics, including "the sheikh and holy warrior Osama bin Ladin". The group called on the US to remove its presence in the Middle East, end all forms of support to Israel and to stop what it called the "stealing of Muslim fortunes, especially oil".

Raising another possibility, the London-based Foreign Report said on August 13 that Bin Ladin had reached an agreement with a senior officer of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards earlier this year to combine efforts against the US. The revolutionary guards are aligned with hard-line forces in Iran opposed to rapprochement with Washington.

Investigators said a sophisticated twin bombing would almost certainly have required the infrastructure only available to a government, including the availablility of diplomatic channels.

A major Iranian exile group, the National Council of Resistance, issued a statement on August 11 noting that senior diplomats at Iran's embassies in Kenya and Tanzania had been linked to terror operations in the past, including the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina, which killed 86 people.

True to form, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Hamas organisation, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, announced that the bombers had acted in "self defence."

"America has placed itself by the side of Israel against the Arab and Muslim world," he said in an interview, "so it should be no surprise when people seek revenge against the unjust American policy." (The Associated Press, Aug 11). Yassin claimed no knowledge of the perpetrators.

Israel took the opportunity once again to be a "light to the nations" [Isaiah 42:6], rushing in rescue and medical teams to help the Kenyans in the search for survivors and extraction of the dead from the rubble. It's a sobering reality that Israel could only offer that level of expertise because it has itself been the primary target of such terror, for decades. Israel also offered the help of its intelligence agencies in tracking down those responsible for the bombings. US President Bill Clinton has vowed to pursue and bring to justice the perpetrators of the attacks.


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