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Terrorism In Kenya Essay

3296 words - 13 pages

Terrorism in Kenya


Kenya has been the battlefield of tragic terrorist attacks on western interests twice since 1998 – once in 1998 when the US embassy was attacked and a second time in 2002 when a Israeli-owned Paradise hotel was bombed. In 1980, Jewish-owned Norfolk hotel was attacked by the PLO. Every single attack shared a common thread of irony: the majority of the lives lost were Kenyan, even though the ideology behind the attacks suggests that Kenyan and Kenyans were not involved in the political dynamic that precipitated the attacks.

The paper seeks to understand the political, social and cultural variables that have thrown Kenya into the geo-political limelight insofar as the so-called ‘War on Terrorism’ is concerned. The paper ends by discussing the security and economic implications of Kenya’s foreign policy positions as they relate to the evolving Middle-East conflicts.

Precipitating events

The following are the major events that have been categorized as terrorist activities in Kenya. These are the events that actually transpired. There could conceivably be more that were and still are on the drawing board but never executed.

In 1976, the famous Entebbe hostage crisis was witnessed in neighboring Uganda. Members of the Baader-Meinhof Group and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) seized an Air France airliner and its 258 passengers.They forced the airplane to land in Uganda. During a 35-minute battle, 20 Ugandan soldiers and all seven hijackers died along with three hostages. when Israeli commandos rescued the passengers. Uganda’s President and dictator Idi Amin arrived at the airport to give a speech in support of the PFLP and supplied the hijackers with extra troops and weapons. Idi Amin was humiliated by the surprise raid. He believed Kenya had colluded with Israel in planning the raid and hundreds of Kenyans living in Uganda were massacred soon afterwards. [1]

In 1980 terrorists linked to the Palestinian Liberation Organization attacked the Jewish-owned Norfolk hotel in Nairobi killing 15 people, most of them Kenyans.

In 1998, the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and the one in neighboring Tanzania were bombed. According to official Kenyan government figures, 213 people were killed in the blast that gutted the U.S. Embassy building in downtown Nairobi. That included 12 American workers and 34 of their Kenyan colleagues, called "foreign service nationals [FSNs]." More than 4,000 Kenyans were also injured in the explosion.

In 2002, three suicide bombers attacked an Israeli-owned hotel, killing 11 Kenyans, 3 Israelis and wounding dozens. Almost simultaneously, at least two missiles were fired at - but missed - an Israeli airliner taking off from Mombasa airport. A previously unknown militant group calling itself The Government of Universal Palestine in Exile, The Army of Palestine, issued a statement in Lebanon claiming responsibility saying the operations were timed to...

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