Jerusalem, Nov. 30: Hundreds of Israeli troops and Mossad secret service agents poured into Kenya yesterday, effectively taking control of the investigation into the suspected al Qaida bomb and missile attacks in the resort city of Mombasa.
More than 300 heavily-armed soldiers, medical personnel and airmen flew in on five special flights, as Ariel Sharon, Israel’s Prime Minister, promised to “hunt down” those responsible.
Kenya said today it had so far found no link between 12 people held over Thursday’s attacks on Israelis in Mombasa and the al Qaida network that some suspect was behind them, and two detainees were freed.
US officials said yesterday the top suspect for the blast was the Somali-based group Al-Itihad al-Islamiya, known also as AIAI or the Islamic Union. They said it was a prominent Islamist group in the Horn of Africa and had links with the al Qaida group.
Three Israelis, including two children, and nine Kenyans, died in the attack.
Mossad agents took control of all aspects of the investigation. They secured the scene of the suicide bombing at the Paradise Mombasa Hotel and missile debris from the attempt to shoot down an Israeli charter flight carrying 271 people. Some personnel organised the evacuation of the Israeli wounded and holidaymakers seeking a swift return home.
The deployment underlined Israel’s sudden entry into the war on terrorism declared by President George W Bush after September 11.
The Israelis are seeking high-grade intelligence information, allowing planners in Israel to establish who was responsible for the attacks and to organise retribution. One prominent Islamic leader, Abubakar Awadh said: “If this was done to Israelis alone, it would be a worthy cause.”