Dubai, Dec. 8 (Reuters): The al Qaida network has claimed responsibility for attacks on an Israeli airliner and hotel in Kenya which killed 16 people and vowed even more “lethal” assaults against Israel and its chief ally, the US.
“I hereby confirm what has been issued by al Qaida political office regarding our responsibility for the Mombasa attacks in Kenya,” leading al Qaida member Sulaiman Bu Ghaith said in an audio statement released today by Islamist website www.jehad.com.
“The Christian-Jewish alliance will not, God willing, be safe from attacks by the mujahideen (Muslim warriors)... The alliance’s installations and facilities everywhere will be subject to attacks,” he said.
“The next phase will witness bigger and more lethal operations,” he added. The website has in the past carried statements by Muslim militants, including al Qaida.
Bu Ghaith, a former Muslim preacher and teacher, emerged as al Qaida’s spokesman after last year’s September 11 attacks, which the US blamed on the militant Islamic network. He is a close associate of Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaida. Bu Ghaith is among leading al Qaida members being sought by the US and has been in hiding since the US launched its attack on Afghanistan last October.
His statement, recorded yesterday, urged Muslims to rise up against the US, with “focused and lightning operations”.
“The enemy should not feel safe whether on land, sea or air,” he said, adding that Washington’s preparations for a possible attack against Iraq aimed at killing Muslims, partitioning the country and plundering its oil wealth.
The US and its allies want to “protect the Jewish occupiers and achieve their expansionist dream of setting up a (Jewish) state between the Nile and Euphrates,” he said. The Euphrates river runs from Turkey to Iraq through Syria.
Israel had named al Qaida as the prime suspect in a suicide bombing at a hotel in Mombasa on November 28 that killed 13 Kenyans and three Israelis and a failed attempt to shoot down with missiles an Israeli airliner taking off nearby.
Raanan Gissin, adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, today said: “We said all the time that the attacks bore the fingerprints of al Qaida, we just didn’t have an official confirmation... They have said all along that Israel is an enemy and a potential target.” Gissin said there was no doubt al Qaida had carried out such attacks, in concert with the local infrastructure, whether in Bali, Somalia or the World Trade Centre attacks.
“It’s not surprising they are taking responsibility,” he said. “In the beginning (after the attack), they had an interest to play it down so they wouldn’t be pursued immediately, but the ideological imperative is to take responsibility. It’s part of their goal to undermine the Western world.”