>> Monday, August 18, 2008
Just over 10 years ago was one of the more forgotten incidents in the War on Terror. Surprising since it was the Genesis for the War on Terror. The U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania were conducted in a near simultaneous fashion. The bombing of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania killed a total of 241 persons and wounded over 5000. Four men have been convicted for their involvement in the attacks. However, the alleged mastermind Fazul Abdullah Mohammed remains on the run more than a decade after his crime.
The hunt for Fazul has been marked by many claims of “near misses” including the most recent one on Aug 3. The ten-year manhunt has started to grate on the welcome and understanding of some Kenyans. The collateral damage has begun to add up leading some to question exactly what the U.S. backed Kenyon authorities.
"The pursuit of these four suspects has had a huge impact in the Horn of Africa," said Ali Said, director of the Center for Peace and Democracy, based in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. "They always say, 'We almost found him!' But then they don't find him. After a decade, they are still after these suspects, still bombing the wrong places, killing cows and camels and herders and arresting the wrong people. . . . The whole community is paying the price."
It sounds very familiar to the experiences of those in Afghanistan hunting the Taliban and other members of Al-Queda. The description in the Post presents the inference that the F.B.I, in their zealous pursuit of Fazul, has been handing resources to Kenyon forces less interested in capturing him than expanding their budget.
The suspicion of the Kenyon side comes from several things. First is the timing of the raid so close to the 10-year anniversary of the attacks. The symmetry and story line seem a little too neat. Second is that the raid was conducted without the FBI’s knowledge and presence. It is easier to make justifications about unnecessary raids and failed action when the bank rollers have to rely on second hand accounts. The third is the corollary raid at a neighbor’s house.
Around the same time, about two dozen Kenyan anti-terrorism police descended on Amina Adan's house, down the road. Adan and her three children, terrified that they were being robbed, barricaded themselves in an upstairs bedroom as the officers broke through three heavy wooden doors and rifled through the family's belongings. The authorities confiscated their cellphones and passports.
Adan said she is an acquaintance of Ashur's family but had no idea why her house was raided.
"They are just looking for something to do so they can say they are working," said Adan's daughter, Mumina Fazzini, 21. "I think they have failed -- they are poor in their jobs so they have to try something."
The description of the manhunt in Kenya is similar to the story of the search for WMD’s in prewar Iraq. The hunters are looking for a justification for their actions so they act on bad or weak intelligence. People interested in the monetary compensation for information come forward and implicate their enemies. The Americans are bankrolling a lucrative racket in Kenya.
Kimathi, the human rights advocate, said the Kenyan anti-terrorism unit has cultivated a network of informants who often supply its agents with names of people who turn out to be business enemies, or others with whom they are trying to settle scores. The informants receive a stipend for information, he said.
"Americans must know they're dealing with police in a third-world country . . .," said Guled Hassan, 42, a businessman. "Only this week several people have been arrested just for ransom, because anyone who paid the police was released."
Similar stories are common in Mombasa, a nearby resort town where the city's old Arab area, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, is full of skepticism about the anti-terrorism campaign.
Similar to the funding for anti-terror operations in Pakistan the events in Kenya are disheartening. Our government is throwing money around with little to show for it. While we need to hunt down the people who were involved in that terrible, bombing our current method seems to be turning the locals against us. These are the people we need to apprehend the suspects and pissing them off is not the solution. The Kenyon's appear to be acting simply to preserve the appearance that they are very intent on hunting down Al-Queda when in reality they just like the resources we provide.