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November 30, 2002

'No al-Qaeda link' to Kenya detainees

Update on terror attack against Israel at Kenya.
No connection has yet been established between 12 people detained over attacks on Israeli targets in the Kenyan city of Mombasa and the al-Qaeda network, Kenyan authorities say.

A couple from Florida, who were among those held, have been released after the authorities accepted they had no involvement in the bombing of the Paradise Hotel which killed 16 people, including three suicide attackers, on Thursday.

United States officials have said they believe a Somali-based Islamic group may have carried out the bombing, which was immediately preceded by a failed missile attack on a nearby Israeli plane.

The officials say the group, Al-Ittihad al-Islamiya (AIAI), also known as the Islamic Union, is a prominent militant organisation in the Horn of Africa with links to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

International investigation

Kenyan authorities investigating the attacks detained six Pakistanis, four Somalis, an American and a Spaniard.

The US and Spanish nationals - a couple from Florida - were released on Saturday.

They were held as they checked out of their hotel shortly after the blast occurred on a tip-off from hotel staff, after police asked to be told of any departures.

The couple said they were fine as they emerged from Kenyan police custody.

Related, headlines from Debka for today:

PM Sharon: There is a connection between Palestinians and al Qaeda. We know it exists in Lebanon and most probably in Gaza too

DEBKAfile’s military, intelligence, counter-terrorist sources:

Joint Kenyan-US-Israeli investigation of Thursday’s twin attacks on Israeli targets in Mombasa focus on link with 1998 East African US embassy bombings by al Qaeda.

Wanted are 2 Egyptian al Qaeda senior operatives, Abdullah Mohammed Fazul and lieutenant Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah

Fazul orchestrated 1996 Ethiopian Airways 961 hijack, killing CIA agents and 5 heads of Israeli Aircraft Industries, Abdullah was behind embassy bombings.

Both believed hiding in Somalia. Also sought there are three pilots of light aircraft that bombed Mombasa Paradise Hotel concurrently with ground blast that killed 13, including 3 Israelis.