Twenty-one years ago today, the near simultaneous vehicular bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania cost the lives of 224 people and wounded more than 4,500 others. Twelve American USG employees and family members, and 32 Kenyan and 8 Tanzanian USG employees, were among those killed.
According to the FBI, over 900 FBI agents alone—and many more FBI employees—traveled overseas to assist in the recovery of evidence and the identification of victims at the bomb sites and to track down the perpetrators in the aftermath of the attacks. Below via the FBI:
These attacks were soon directly linked to al Qaeda. To date, more than 20 people have been charged in connection with the bombings. Several of these individuals—including Usama bin Laden—have been killed. Six are serving life sentences in U.S. prison, and a few others are awaiting trial.
The KENBOM and TANBOM investigations—as the FBI calls them—represented at that time the largest deployment in Bureau history. They led to ramped up anti-terror efforts by the United States and by the FBI, including an expanded Bureau overseas presence that can quickly respond to acts of terrorism that involve Americans.
The investigation continues, with the following fugitives still wanted for their alleged roles in the attacks:
Today, we remember and honor all who died or were injured on August 7, 1998. We remember, too, their family, friends & colleagues. To everyone who suffered that day: you are in our hearts, minds, and prayers. we are united, Americans and Kenyans. pic.twitter.com/bFjfMPctlK
— U.S. Embassy Nairobi (@USEmbassyKenya) August 7, 2019
We remember & mourn those who were killed in the horrific 1998 bombings at @USEmbassyKenya & @USEmbTZ & we stand with all who were injured or affected. The terrorists did not & will not break US-Kenya security cooperation.” Under Secretary Hale @MemorialParkKe, Nairobi. pic.twitter.com/TGN1mdcF8n
— Tibor Nagy (@AsstSecStateAF) August 6, 2019
Remembering those who perished 21 yrs ago in Nairobi & Dar es salam when the embassies were bombed. The face of evil, terrorism, was revealed that day. For peace & freedom we stand strong & remain vigilant today. pic.twitter.com/nj4e71GKMW
— Ambassador Kyle McCarter (@USAmbKenya) August 7, 2019
#OTD 21 years ago: A Bomb attack by Al Qaeda was carried out at the US embassy in Nairobi, followed by another one in the American Embassy in Dar es Salaam,Tanzania. Over 224 people lost their lives with more then 4,500 being injured. #augustmemorial pic.twitter.com/jxBTChMnje
— nt.co.ke 💎 (@NtKenya) August 7, 2019
- Amb. Prudence Bushnell: Terrorism, Betrayal and Resilience (Book Preview)
- ADST-DACOR Book Launch: Amb. Prudence Bushnell’s Account of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings
- Former US Ambassador Prudence Bushnell writes about Planet Washington and a bitter lesson not learned
- Courting Remembrance: @USEmbassyKenya and @AmEmbTZ, August 7, 1998 .
- First Person: An Embassy Bombing – Dar Es Salaam, August 7, 1998 .
- US Embassy Kenya: August 7 Memorial Park Gets Back to Back Visitors .
- U.S. Court Awards Damages to Victims of August 7, 1998 East Africa Embassy Bombings .
- State Dept’s Albright Archive – Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, August 7, 1998 .
- U.S. Mission Kenya Commemorates 15th Anniversary of August 7 Embassy Bombing .
- Compensating the Victims of the August 7, 1998 Embassy Bombings Would Set a Precedent? Goddammit, So What?
- 1998 US Embassy Bombing Suspect Fazul Abdullah Mohammed Killed in Somalia
- 1998 East Africa Embassy Bomber Gets Life Sentence Without Parole
- US Embassy Africa Bombings: ONE guilty verdict out of 286 counts spectacularly sucks!
- The ‘forgotten victims’ of the 1998 American Embassy bombings in Africa
- R E M E M B E R – August 7, 1998
Posted: 2:05 am EST
As Lori & I leave Kenya we offer a profound asanteni sana to all Kenyans. Serving as US Ambassador has been one of the great privileges of my life. Kenya & Kenyans will always have a big place in our hearts. Kwaheri ya kuonana. My op-ed: https://t.co/HL3I6nMfdZ @USEmbassyKenya
— Ambassador Bob Godec (@BobGodec) January 27, 2019
My wife Lori & I experienced the trauma & tragedy of August 7, 1998. But we also saw the heroism, compassion & selflessness of so many Embassy staff, Kenyans & friends from around the world. #Aug7at20 https://t.co/n46vR6TMbL pic.twitter.com/In8dPyTohS
— Ambassador Bob Godec (@BobGodec) August 7, 2018
It was a thrilling, epic 36 hours from departure of the inaugural @KenyaAirways flight #Nairobi to #NewYork to the return! Thank you to everyone who made it happen. Now we should work together to realize all the possibilities it offers to connect us even more closely. #KQNBONYC pic.twitter.com/lnffMf0VLy
— Ambassador Bob Godec (@BobGodec) October 30, 2018
— Ambassador Bob Godec (@BobGodec) June 5, 2018
Ambassador Prudence Bushnell’s book, Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings will be available on October 1. On October 2, ADST-DACOR will hold a book launch at the DACOR Bacon House. This is the 65th volume in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series.
Date: October 2
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
To RSVP please email: email@example.com if you plan to attend the reception (free of charge)
Via Amazon: On August 7, 1998, three years before President George W. Bush declared the War on Terror, the radical Islamist group al-Qaeda bombed the American embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, where Prudence Bushnell was serving as U.S. ambassador. Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience is her account of what happened, how it happened, and its impact twenty years later.
When the bombs went off in Kenya and neighboring Tanzania that day, Congress was in recess and the White House, along with the entire country, was focused on the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Congress held no hearings about the bombings, the national security community held no after-action reviews, and the mandatory Accountability Review Board focused on narrow security issues. Then on September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. homeland and the East Africa bombings became little more than an historical footnote.
Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience is Bushnell’s account of her quest to understand how these bombings could have happened given the scrutiny bin Laden and his cell in Nairobi had been getting since 1996 from special groups in the National Security Council, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA. Bushnell tracks national security strategies and assumptions about terrorism and the Muslim world that failed to keep us safe in 1998 and continue unchallenged today. In this hard-hitting, no-holds-barred account she reveals what led to poor decisions in Washington and demonstrates how diplomacy and leadership going forward will be our country’s most potent defense.
“Ambassador Prudence Bushnell is a true professional with the toughness, grit, courage, and compassion that marks the kind of superb leader you want in charge during a crisis. I witnessed her remarkable composure, even when personally injured, and her take-command leadership style. This book is important for many reasons. It vividly presents a profile in courage; an understanding rarely appreciated about our foreign service men and women working in difficult assignments; a set of valuable lessons learned; and a case study in leadership during crisis. Every American should read this book.”—Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
Posted: 2:21 am ET
On March 11, Secretary Tillerson delivered the following remarks at the Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the August 7th Memorial Park; in Nairobi, Kenya.
As all of you well know, 1998 terrorists thought they could demoralize and destroy the Kenyan and American people by attacking the U.S. embassy here in Nairobi. Of course, they were wrong. Nearly 20 years later, we meet here to honor those who we lost and those who were injured. Hundreds of lives were taken and hundreds if not a thousand more were changed forever. Some of our current embassy colleagues who survived this tragedy, including Ambassador Godec and his wife Lori and our current locally employed staff at the embassy that day of the bombing, are with us as well. And it’s an honor to meet all of you, and I appreciate you being here.
To the survivors present, please know that the American people remember your service and your sacrifice as well as those who are not with us today and have been forever lost. Our hearts are with the many who lost family, friends, and colleagues on that tragic day.
Today we remember them and their bravery, the compassion, and the sacrifice, as well as many who without hesitation that day and at risk to themselves rushed into action to save lives and help others. We honor those heroes and the courage they displayed as well. They are all examples to us.
As our work continues to end terrorism, those who sought to divide us here have failed. Our commitment to work together as Americans and Kenyans is steadfast, it is enduring, and we will build on the shared values and our shared future, which remains very strong. We will never forget the names on this wall. Thank you.
The FBI says that the investigation continues, with the following fugitives still wanted for their alleged roles in the attacks:
January 1999: Report of the Accountability Review Boards on the Embassy Bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998.
As the NYT notes, the Africa Embassy bombings “may have done more to transform the State Department than any other event of the past 50 years.”
It also points a fact that’s not lost on anyone — “Mr. Tillerson has twice proposed slashing the department’s budget to about $35 billion from about $50 billion, saying that doing so would return spending levels to those before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”
And just watch, he won’t stop at his second try.
Rex Tillerson laid a wreath on Sunday at a Nairobi memorial commemorating a bombing 20 years ago that killed more than 200 people, an attack that transformed the State Department. Critics warn that his proposed funding cuts could cost lives. https://t.co/M5X19WOgJQ
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) March 12, 2018
Today, Secretary Tillerson honored those lives who were lost and injured in the 1998 @USEmbassyKenya terrorist bombing during a wreath-laying ceremony at the @Aug7thMemorial Park in Nairobi, #Kenya. https://t.co/ONweGBdeuI #SecStateinAfrica pic.twitter.com/2zRguzdyIQ
— Department of State (@StateDept) March 11, 2018
Secretary Tillerson honored the innocent victims, survivors & heroes @Aug7thMemorial. We will never forget their sacrifice and we stand firmly with #Kenya and all our partners in the fight against the scourge of terrorism. pic.twitter.com/rqPDr70Ie4
— U.S. Embassy Nairobi (@USEmbassyKenya) March 11, 2018
— Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) March 9, 2018
Posted: 2:21 am ET
Kenya’s local media reports that a couple hundred local guards contracted to guard the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya staged a demonstration on Thursday over “poor pay.” The guards citing the high cost of living in the country reportedly refused to go home after their night duty and demanded that the Aegis/KK Security Kenya’s East Africa Managing Director Nick Arnold address their grievances. Capita FM News said that the guards are asking for a pay increase from their current basic salary of Sh17,000 to Sh38,000 (about $164 to $367 in online forex converter) which they say has not been reviewed for more than a decade.
We understand that the local guard force has between 900-1000 members, and that this dispute has been going on since last month. This contract #SAQMMA17C0012 for a local guard program at US Embassy Nairobi is valued at KES3,837,264,329.27 (or $37M USD) and was awarded on November 23, 2016 to Aegis-KK Security.
The Contractor shall provide the organizational structure, management, and qualified staff at levels adequate to meet or exceed the requirement contained in the Performance Work Statement. The Contractor shall be required to provide services in a manner that prevent loss or injury to U.S. personnel, dependents, property; destruction of assets; to prevent unauthorized access; and deter potential terrorist attacks. Anticipated period of performance is one base year and four one-year options (to be exercised at the sole discretion of the Government).
GardaWorld has appointed Nick Arnold as the MD for East Africa. He brings over 20 years experience in Africa and wider Emerging Markets and has held senior management positions in the security industry. Mr Arnold said GardaWorld’s seeks to grow presence in Africa by extending “our world-class security and protective services to international clients with growing presence on the continent.”
GovConWire notes that Aegis holds positions on DoD’s Reconstruction Security Support Services and the State Department’s potential $10 billion Worldwide Protective Services contract vehicles.
We asked the State Department about the reported new contract with Aegis/Garda, as we were told that the guards think the salary offered them are “peanuts.” We requested the DS bureau for comment and asked what the bureau is doing to ensure security for the mission during the ongoing dispute.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security politely acknowledged our inquiry but later responded with “Thank you for your query. We are unable to offer any additional comments on this.”
This is not the first time that the guards have staged a demonstration or threatened to strike over pay.
Posted: 2:35 am ET
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]
US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand
US Embassy Nairobi, Kenya
US Embassy Port Au Prince, Haiti
US Embassy Manila, Philippines
USCG Frankfurt, Germany
USCG Karachi, Pakistan
US Embassy New Delhi, India
Posted: 1:33 pm ET
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]
A shoutout to U.S. Consulate Halifax who did their Halloween party with a reminder to overseas Americans on how to request their absentee ballots. The Federal Voting Assistance Program includes information for the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and the Federal Write-in Ballot (FWAB) to cast your absentee ballots. Go do it!
Bonus tweets from Palmerston and the White House:
Posted: 1:15 am ET
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]
There was a shooting incident outside the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya on October 27 after a knife-wielding assailant attacked an armed Kenyan police officer guarding an entrance to the embassy. This is one more reminder that local law enforcement employed by host countries and local embassy guards are in the front line of protecting our missions overseas. The US Embassy said that no Embassy personnel were involved and no U.S. citizens are known to have been affected by this incident. The Embassy closed to the public on October 28 for routine consular services but emergency consular services for U.S. citizens remained available. In its Security Message to U.S. citizens, Embassy Nairobi writes, “We are grateful for the ongoing protection provided by the Kenyan police. We are cooperating with Kenyan authorities on the investigation of the incident on Thursday, October 27 and refer all questions about the investigation to them. We will be open to the public for normal operations on Monday, October 31, 2016.”
A quick look at the State Department’s Office of Allowances website indicates that Kenya had zero danger pay in September 2013, when the Westgate mall attack occurred. The website indicates that Kenya has been designated as a 15% danger differential post since June 29, 2014 until October 30, 2016 when the latest data is available online.
However, we understand that Embassy Nairobi has recently been downgraded in threat designation for terrorism which eliminates danger pay. We were reminded that it took 9 months after the Westgate Shopping Mall Attack before any danger pay differential kicked in for U.S. Embassy Nairobi; and this happened while reportedly about a third of the country including several neighborhoods in Nairobi remain red no-go zones for employees posted in Kenya. The allowances website does not reflect the downgraded status as of yet so we’ll have to wait and see what happens to the mid-November update.
The sad reality is these attacks could happen anywhere. There were 1,475 attacks in 2016 alone involving 12,897 fatalities around the world.