The prosecution in Kenya plans to
link four men charged in connection with the November 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned
hotel to the al-Qaida terror network. The murder trial is underway in Nairobi.
In his opening statement, state prosecutor Edwin Okello said the attack on
Paradise Hotel was directly related to tensions in the Middle East.
Evidence will also show that Paradise Hotel was targeted because it is owned
by an Israeli and its guests are predominantly Israelis," said Mr. Okello.
He said the suicide bombers, who in November 2002 killed 12 Kenyans and three
Israelis, selected the particular location specifically to kill and maim Israeli
nationals. The loss of Kenyan lives, said Mr. Okello, was the price Kenya paid
for its friendly ties with Israel.
Four men have been charged with 15 counts of murder each for their alleged
role in the Paradise Hotel bombing. They are Omar Sa'id Omar, Mohammed Kubwa,
Aboud Rogo Mohammed, and Mohammed Ali Saleh Nabhan.
The prosecutor told High Court Justice John Osiemo his team will prove the four
had, what he called, frenzied communication with the suicide bombers and Fazul
Abdullah Mohammed, a suspected al-Qaida operative who is also allegedly behind
the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.
He said the prosecution also intends to show how the four coordinated the
missile attack on an Israeli passenger jet as it was taking off from the Mombasa
airport within minutes of the hotel bombing.
The suspects are also alleged to have used fake identification to rent three
houses in the coastal city of Mombasa where they planned the bombing.
The trial is expected to last at least a month. Three other alleged terrorists
went on trial last month on lesser charges of conspiracy to carry out the attacks.
The prosecution in the murder trial says it intends to call more than 140
witnesses to the stand.