Bin Laden's cowardly warriors selected the softest of targets
Saturday November 30, 2002
"God, the preachers say, does not give you more problems than you can handle. In Kenya's case, He is cutting it close.
For the second time in less than five years, Osama bin Laden, like an evil genie, has breathed the foul evil of terrorism on our country. Kenyans across the country are shocked, scared and angry. Above all, they are furious at al-Qaida's unfairness. Don't we have enough problems without a mad mullah exporting his perverted jihad to our country, they ask.
A poor country whose people have an average income of a dollar a day, which is daily losing 500 citizens to Aids, a tattered economy, bogged down by a million orphans, is not a worthy adversary for any self-respecting warrior. But the soldiers of al-Qaida are not warriors. They are cowards.
Before 1998, Kenya had no external enemies. By his unprovoked attacks and consistent attempts to play Kenya as a pawn in his game against America, Israel and the entire western hegemony, Bin Laden has made himself Kenya's enemy number one.
Bin Laden knows this part of Africa, having lived in Sudan for five years under the protection of fundamentalists such as Hassan al Tourabi. He was finally expelled and joined the Taliban in Afghanistan but is now believed to be a fugitive somewhere in central Asia.
Why Kenya? Experts say basically the country is a »soft target«, a chink in the west's armour. It is affluent enough, by African standards, to have western investments and interests but without enough money to buy world class security; sufficiently democratic and corrupt to allow the terrorists and their equipment to move around, and with good communications to put the terrorists' handiwork on to the big media networks.
The Americans have been convinced that there are al-Qaida sympathisers at the Kenyan coast. Added to our proximity to Somalia, where al-Qaida cells are said to exist, then it is easy to see why Kenya is one of Bin Laden's favourite targets.
His grievances are impossible to address. He most probably wants the complete destruction of Israel and the elimination of western influence around the world.
He is also understood to prefer the overthrow of democratic governments in Muslim countries, to be replaced by purist, oddball theocracies, such as that established by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The terrorist's strategy is to attack Israeli and American targets wherever they exist in the world. But they end up hurting societies which have nothing to do with their dispute.
A terrorist attack against the holiday resort of Bali in Indonesia has reduced it to a tourist ghost town. The August 8 1998 bomb blast killed more than 200 Kenyans but only 12 Americans, who were supposedly the real target.
It is expected that the coast attacks will severely affect tourism into whose recovery a lot of work has gone in the last five years. It will also undermine Kenya's attractiveness to investors and hurt the delivery of services and public investment because scarce resources will be diverted to counter terrorism."