Terrorism against Israelis in Kenya
The attack on the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya (which killed 9 Kenyans and two Israeli children) and the firing of shoulder-launched missiles at an Israeli airliner leaving Mombasa airport both smacked of al-Qaeda tactics. They like at least two big explosions to go off around the same time.
Because Israel is isolated from most markets in the Arab world, it has tried to develop extensive ties with East and South Africa to offset this liability. The attack in Kenya targeted the Israeli tourist economy and Israeli investments in Kenya. It is part of al-Qaeda’s continued attempts to harm the economies of those it perceives as enemies and ‘invaders’ of the Middle East.
In an interview on al-Jazeerah tv, Omar Bakri of the Jama`at al-Muhajirin in London said that last week al-Qaeda supporters had boasted that there would be a big operation in East Africa.
East Africa is a battleground in Christian-Muslim and East-West clashes. Some 20 percent of Kenyans are Muslim, especially along the Red Sea littoral, as well as, of course, in Somalia, and from there north Muslim and Christian groups both exist in Ethiopia and the Sudan. Muslim Eritrea won its independence from Christian Ethiopia in 1991, and Ethiopia and Somalia have had bad relations. A subdued Christian East African alliance with Israel has drawn the ire of radical Muslim fundamentalists, and combatting such an alliance lay behind Thursday’s operations, in part.
East Africa is also a key site for resistance to terrorism. Kenya is an ally of the US in the war on terror. There are 160 German naval personnel in Mombasa monitoring the Horn of Africa, presumably for al-Qaeda skiffs and pirate ships.
An obscure and never before heard from Palestinian organization claimed credit in Beirut. But al-Qaeda is an umbrella organization with many Palestinian members, so that really means very little.
The US had a fair amount of success in tracking down the perpetrators of the embassy bombings by al-Qaeda in this region, and there is every hope this success will be replicated in this case.