Tracking Terror Through Africa

Issue: Spring 2004

On August 7, 1998, Al-Qaeda suicide bombers attacked the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing at least 258 people and injuring more than 5,000 others. President Clinton's response-lobbing a few (mis-directed) cruise missiles at suspected Al-Qaeda installations in Afghanistan and Sudan-was clearly viewed by Osama bin Laden as a mere slap on the wrist. What the attacks had shown was that a few suicide bombers using everyday means of transport as a delivery mechanism could achieve complete surprise and inflict thousands of casualties on two or more targets at once by carefully coordinated action. With this, Al-Qaeda had found the weapon for which it had been searching-and which it was to use again with even greater effect on September 11, 2001.

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