KAMPALA– Kenya and Tanzania will on Tuesday mark 20 years since the devastating United States embassy bombings in their countries which thrust the Al-Qaeda terrorist group onto the global stage and went on to shape how a generation thinks about personal security.
It was mid-morning on Aug 7, 1998, when the first massive blast hit the US Embassy in downtown Nairobi, followed minutes later by an explosion at the US Embasy in Dar-es-Salaam, killing a total of 224 people and injuring around 5,000, almost all of them Africans.
With two monster bombs loaded onto the back of trucks and a trail of carnage in East Africa, the world was introduced to Osama bin Laden three years before the Sept 11 attacks in New York City would make him a household name.
“It wasn’t the first time Al-Qaeda had carried out an attack, but in terms of the spectacular, catastrophic nature of the incident, they really announced their entry onto the world stage,” said Martin Kimani, head of Kenya’s National Counter-Terrorism Centre. “When 9/11 happened it was shocking and surprising, but a precedent had been set here in East Africa.”
According to “The Looming Tower”, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the rise of Al-Qaeda, bin Laden gave various reasons for targeting the embassies, such as the deployment of American troops to Somalia and a US plan to partition Sudan, where he had lived for five years until being expelled in 1996.
However, author Lawrence Wright concluded that the main goal was to “lure the United States into Afghanistan”.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK