Terrorism in Kenya
Kenya has been the scene of various attacks attributed to terrorist elements. In 1980, the Jewish-owned Norfolk hotel was attacked by the PLO. In 1998, the US embassy in Nairobi was bombed, as was the Israeli-owned Paradise hotel four years later.
- 1 Background
- 2 Major incidents
- 3 Other incidents related to terrorism
- 4 Anti-Terrorism legislation
- 5 Causes
- 6 See also
- 7 References
In July 1976, during the Operation Entebbe hostage crisis, Kenya briefly served as a refuelling stage for the Israeli C-130 Hercules transport planes on their way back to Israel after the Entebbe raid. Perceived as Western interest and Israeli support, this incident led to anger from terrorist groups.
1975 Nairobi bombing & J M Kariuki murder
In early 1975, the first bombs to strike independent Kenya exploded. In February, there were two blasts in central Nairobi, inside the Starlight nightclub and in a travel bureau near the Hilton hotel. The day after the second explosion, JM Kariuki revealed in Parliament that his car had been hit "by what seemed to be bullets".There were rumours of a botched attempt on his life. They were followed by a more serious blast in a Nairobi bus on 1 March, which killed 30 people. Despite a massive public outcry and a police manhunt, no arrests were made. For several days thereafter, the city lived in fear, destabilised by numerous telephone bomb hoaxes.
On 2 March 1975, the day after the OTC bus blast, security officials including General Service Unit commander Ben Gethi publicly accosted JM Kariuki outside the Hilton hotel. Various police officers, including European police reservist Patrick Shaw, had been following JM throughout the day. Gethi asked Kariuki to accompany the security officials into a convoy of cars and took him to an unknown destination.
The bombings stopped after the news of the disappearance and murder of JM Kariuki became public.
1980 Norfolk Hotel bombing
The second bombing happened on the Norfolk Hotel on New Year’s Eve 1980. In that attack, a bomb flattened the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, killing 20 people and injuring 80. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by an Arab group that said it was seeking retaliation for Kenya's allowing Israeli troops to refuel in Nairobi during the raid on Entebbe Airport in Uganda four years earlier to rescue hostages from a hijacked aircraft.
According to reports about that incident, international security agencies in conjunction with the Kenya Police had a prime suspect within hours. He was identified as 34-year-old Qaddura Mohammed Abdel al-Hamid of Morocco, and he was said to have checked into the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi in the last week of 1980. Al-Hamid was found to have paid for his room up until New Year's Day, but slipped away on the afternoon of 31 December. He had boarded a plane for Saudi Arabia by the time the guests at the Norfolk assembled for a New Year's Eve dinner.
1998 Embassy bombing
The bombing took place on 7 August 1998 at around 1030hrs EAT.
Later in an interview, then-US ambassador Prudence Bushnell said that a self-identified al-Qaeda operative had come into the Nairobi embassy in December 1997, 8 months before the attack, and warned that it would be blown up with a truck bomb.
2002 Kikambala bombing
On 28 November 2002 there were missile attack on an Israel Plane after take off from Mombasa airport. Subsequently there was an attack on Kikambala Hotel when they were receiving Israeli tourists.
The blast occurred just after some 60 visitors had checked into the hotel, all of them from Israel, hotel officials said. 13 were killed and 80 injured. Ten Kenyans died, nine of whom were employed by the hotel, most of them were said to be traditional dancers who came to welcome the 140 guests arriving from Israel by state-chartered jet and three Israelis, two of whom were children. In an overnight operation that went on into the early hours, four Israeli military Hercules planes with teams of doctors and psychologists flew into Mombasa and evacuated injured Israeli tourists and all those who wanted to leave.
Almost simultaneously, two shoulder-launched Strela 2 (SA-7) surface-to-air missiles were fired at another chartered Boeing 757 airliner owned by Israel-based Arkia Airlines as it took off from Moi International Airport. The Arkia charter company had a regular weekly service flying tourists between Tel Aviv and Mombasa. Kenyan police discovered a missile launcher and two missile casings in the Changamwe area of Mombasa, about two kilometres (1.25 miles) from the airport.
Police have been seeking MR Bajnaf Mselem Swaleh Mahdi Khamisi, who they believe may lead them to Fazul, the main suspect.
2012 Al-Shabaab attacks
In October 2011, a coordinated operation between the Somali military and the Kenyan military began against the Al-Shabaab group of insurgents in southern Somalia. The mission was officially led by the Somali army, with the Kenyan forces providing a support role. Since then, a series of explosions have rocked various areas in Kenya, bombings which are believed to have been retaliatory attacks by Al-Shabaab. In early June 2012, Kenyan forces were formally integrated into AMISOM.
According to US Embassy in the past 2011/2012, there have been at least 17 attacks involving grenades or explosive devices in Kenya. At least 48 people died in these attacks, and around 200 people were injured. Nine of these attacks occurred in North Eastern Province, including locations in Dadaab, Wajir, and Garissa. Four attacks occurred in Nairobi, and four in Mombasa. Targets included police stations and police vehicles, nightclubs and bars, churches, a religious gathering, a downtown building of small shops, and a bus station. The most recent attack involved two simultaneous assaults on churches in Garissa on 1 July 2012. In this attack, 17 people were killed and about 50 people were injured.
Westgate mall shooting
On 21 September 2013, Al-Shabaab-associated gunmen targeted and shot customers at Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall. Over 80 people were reportedly killed in the attack.
On 13 June 2010, during a "NO" campaign rally, a petrol bomb was thrown into the crowds as the meeting dispersed at dusk, sparking a stampede as people fled. Some witnesses reported that there had been two separate explosions, in Uhuru Park in the centre of the city.Five people were killed and as many as 75 were injured. The meeting was called by a church leader to campaign against a proposed new constitution in a referendum.
On 17 September 2011, a grenade shell was recovered within the premises of the office of the Prime Minister. However, police cooled off the issue saying it was not targeting anybody.
On 30 September, the Sunday school of St Polycarp's church in Nairobi was attacked with grenades. According to newspaper reports, one child was killed. Kenyan police blamed the attack on Al-Shabaab sympathizers.
The Kenyan Parliament is working on legislation focused on reducing terrorism.
There has been opposition from Muslim, NGO and human rights groups. The bill aims to allow police to tap private communications, seize property and access the bank details of suspected terrorists.
At the urging of Al-Shabaab, an increasing number of terrorist attacks in Kenya have been carried out by local Kenyans, many of whom are recent converts to Islam. Estimates in 2012 placed the figure of Kenyan fighters at around 10% of Al-Shabaab's total forces. Referred to as the "Kenyan Mujahideen" by Al-Shabaab's core members, the converts are typically young and overzealous, poverty making them easier targets for the outfit's recruitment activities. Because the Kenyan insurgents have a different profile from the Somali and Arab militants that allows them to blend in with the general population of Kenya, they are also often harder to track. Reports suggest that Al-Shabaab is attempting to build an even more multi-ethnic generation of fighters in the larger region. One such recent convert who helped mastermind the Kampala bombings but now cooperates with the Kenyan police believes that in doing so, the group is essentially trying to use local Kenyans to do its "dirty work" for it while its core members escape unscathed. According to diplomats, Muslim areas in coastal Kenya and Tanzania, such as Mombasa and Zanzibar, are also especially vulnerable for recruitment.
- Crime in Kenya
- Operation Linda Nchi
- 2002 Mombasa attacks
- 1998 United States embassy bombings
- 2012 Series of Grenade Attack in Kenya
- Aboud Rogo
- South Africa History Online. Sahistory.org.za (2 March 1975).
- Charles Hornsby. When Kenyatta Lost Control on Event in government. Tommboya.org.
- Mwangi Githahu. Star Newspaper. Could string of bombings be a screen for assassination plot? 
- Torchia, Christopher (19 October 2013). "Kenya mall attack echoes 1980 hotel bombing". Associated Press. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Nairobi Bombing Was Preventable. Africaanswerman.com (26 October 2010).
- Israel Evacaute Tourist from Kenya. BBC News (29 November 2002).
- Kenya Police. Wanted Persons
- "Somalia government supports Kenyan forces' mission". The Standard. Kenya.
- Joint Communique – Operation Linda Nchi
- Al-Shabaab to retaliate in Kenya with “huge blasts”
- "Kenya: Defense Minister appointed as acting Internal Security Minister". Garowe Online. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Travel Warning – Kenya : US Embassy. Nairobi.usembassy.gov.
- Pflanz, Mike. (13 June 2010) "Explosion at Kenyan referendum rally kills five". The Daily Telegraph.
- "Raila evacuated but police claim nothing serious". The Standard, Kenya (21 September 2011).
- "Kenya children hurt 'in church grenade attack'". BBC. 30 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- All Africa. Kenya's Anti-Terrorism Bill Raises Privacy Concerns. Allafrica.com (3 July 2012).
- PPS. Kibaki assents to anti-terror bill
- Kenya: A new breed of terrorist is born[dead link]
- "Special Report: In Africa, a militant group's growing appeal". Reuters. 30 May 2012.