Statement claims al-Qaeda responsibility for Mombassa attacks, Israel knew of Kenyan threat

04 December 2002

A statement posted on an Islamist website purporting to be from al-Qaeda claims responsibility for 28 November's attacks in Mombassa, Kenya, in which three Israelis and nine Kenyans died. Missiles were also fired from the ground at an Israeli plane. 'The fighters of al-Qaeda return to the same place where the Crusader-Jewish coalition was hit four years ago,' the statement said. Officials in the US deemed the message credible. Washington is already convinced that the attack is linked to al-Qaeda, partly because the serial number of the missile was close to that of a missile fired at a US military aircraft in Saudi Arabia in May, for which al-Qaeda is the chief suspect. Kenyan police however have found no connection between the group and those so far arrested on suspicion of involvement. If genuine, the website statement would mark a departure for al-Qaeda, which generally does not use that name, and rather than directly claiming responsibility for terrorist actions, praises those responsible.

In Israel, a military intelligence officer Brigadier-General Yossi Kuperwasser, appearing in front of a parliamentary committee, said that there had been advance warnings that al-Qaeda was active in Kenya, but that Israel had never specifically been threatened. Germany and Australia issued warnings in mid-November singling out Mombassa as a possible target for extremist groups.

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