US vetoes compensation of embassy blast victims
Victims of the August 7, 1998, terrorist attack in Nairobi are unlikely to get any compensation after the US government insisted it already paid them and put in place measures to combat terrorism in Kenya.
This comes amid a renewed push by the Senate to have Kenyan victims of the attack compensated. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the attack in which over 200 people were killed and close to 5,000 others injured.
The attack resulted in 12 American deaths while the embassy building was badly damaged.
Read:Kenya, Tanzania remember 1998 bomb attacks
“The terrorist attacks against our embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania claimed 224 innocent victims and injured more than 4,500 others,” said the US Embassy-Nairobi Spokesperson in an interview with Nation.
“In the years immediately following the blast, the United States government provided support and assistance to help Kenyans affected by the bombing to recover from the attacks and resume their lives.”
“This support included: medical care, counselling, school fees, rehabilitation therapy, vocational training, and recovery assistance to businesses.”
In 2020, former US President Donald Trump told Sudan that it would only come off a list of state sponsors of terror if it pays $335m (Ksh46.9 billion in compensation. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok responded by saying the funds had been transferred, a decision that the US confirmed a year later.
Read:US promises ‘new chapter’ with Sudan
“Sudan has paid $335m to compensate victims of past attacks against the United States as part of an agreement that removed the struggling country from Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism — also known as its ‘terror blacklist’,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in April 2021.
Khartoum’s then transitional, civilian-backed government provided the funds for survivors and victims’ families from attacks including the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by Al Qaeda, which was backed by Sudan’s then-leader, Omar al-Bashir.
Sudan hadbeen listed since 1993 when Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden lived there as a guest of the government. However, it is not clear whether the money has been released to survivors and victims’ families from the twin 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Instead, the US government reiterated its commitment to seeking justice as it intensifies the war against terrorism.
“In the aftermath of this attack, the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments, along with countless other international partners, helped us move forward in the face of these heinous acts,” said the spokesperson.
“Today, the United States and our African partners remain committed to pursuing justice, and together we remain steadfast in our efforts to root out violent extremism.”
However, the Kenyan Senate was not happy with the US move, which only saw it compensate its nationals and part of her Kenyan staff. This week, the Senate formed a nine-member ad-hoc committee to follow up on the matter with the US. The committee will be chaired by Machakos Senator Agnes Kavindu.
The Senate wants the committee to engage Kenya’s Foreign Affairs ministry to engage with the US government to pursue and secure the compensation of the Kenyan victims and their families. The US has not made it clear whether or not there will be any payments in future.
“Since 2015, the United States has invested nearly $85 million (Ksh12 billionin assistance to work in partnership with Kenya to combat terrorism and help ensure the Kenyan people remain safe,” said the spokesperson.
Read:UN piracy unit urged to shift focus to crime in African eastern coast
“For example, the United States is working with Kenya’s Border Police Unit to counter violent extremism by delivering vital medical services to susceptible and disenfranchised communities along the border region.”
“The United States has also partnered with the Kenyan Coast Guard since its inception in 2018 and together we are beginning a multi-year project to increase their maritime security in the western Indian Ocean, an area known for illicit trafficking and transnational organized crime activity,” said the US Embassy-Nairobi spokesperson.
“The United States and Kenya are working in partnership to strengthen Kenyan military and law enforcement capabilities to address domestic and regional challenges, including countering terrorism, improving maritime security, and securing Kenya’s borders,” said the US-Embassy-Nairobi spokesperson.
“We will continue to conduct joint exercises and training with the Kenyan Defence Forces and the National Police Service to increase our coordination and capacity to deal with threats to regional peace and security.”