From the Kenya attack, over 4500 were wounded, 150 were blinded.
From the Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower:
Beyond the obvious goal of calling attention to the existence of al Qaeda, the point of the bombings was vague and confusing. The Nairobi operation was named after the Holy Kaaba in Mecca; the Dar es Salaam bombing was called al-Aqsa, after the mosque in Jerusalem; neither had an obvious connection to the American embassies in Africa. Bin Laden put forward several explanations for the attack. He initially said that the sites had been target because of the “invasion” of Somalia; then he described an American plan to partition Sudan, which he said was hatched in the embassy in Nairobi. He also told his followers that the genocide in Rwanda had been planned inside the two American embassies.That would be funny if it didn't make me nauseous.
Muslims all over the world greeted the bombings with horror and dismay. The deaths of so many people, most of them Africans, many of them Muslims, created a furor. Bin Laden said that the bombings gave the Americans a taste of the atrocities that Muslims had experienced. But to most of the world and even to some members of al-Qaeda, the attacks seemed pointless, a showy act of mass murder with no conceivable effect on American policy except to provoke a massive response.Wright says that bin Laden had been trying to get the Americans to come and get him in Afghanistan, figuring that, if he killed enough Americans we would. (We know what happened afterward and what is still happening, but I don’t want to make this post too much about Americans.)
But that, as it turned out, was exactly the point.
I contend that there was another point. Al Qaeda did it for the same reason they do everything else. Evil is almost always its own point.
Kenya’s Daily Nation has, of course, been commemorating the attacks.
Nairobi. 10:40am. Friday August 7, 1998. First came two explosions, then the mighty sonic boom, the ground shook and the skies over a corner of the city darkened with a mushroom cloud.(Emphasis mine.)
As the smoke and dust cleared, tonnes of paper thrown up by the blast wafted lazily over the city, coming down in slow pirouettes that belied the force of the explosion that had sent them into the sky. By the time New York got its 9/11, Nairobi already had its August 7, a date of horror etched in the collective memory of millions of Kenyans.
When the dust had cleared 213 innocents, nearly all of them Kenyans, lay dead.
The target of the terrorist attack, the US embassy, a stout, solid, fortress by the Haile Sellasie Avenue-Moi Avenue-Kenya Railways roundabout, was still standing defiant, but a mere shell gutted into the insides. Twelve American and 31 other embassy staff, nearly all Kenyans, lost their lives.
Adjacent to the embassy building, the taller 7-story Ufundi Cooperative House [containing a secretarial college], not constructed to withstand bomb attacks, had crumbled to the ground.
Victims: Only the Scars Have Died
“We forgive you, but we have not forgotten.”
Personally speaking, I learned quickly that none of my immediate family had been injured. Though I had never met any of them at the time, this was a great relief to me. The American response to the attack, however, made my then ongoing transformation from Democrat to Republican irreversible.
Many things were galling about the attacks, but one was the fact that Africans—Kenyans and Tanzanians—weren’t even the targets of the bombings but took most of the casualties. (This was also the case with the 2002 Mombasa attacks; Israelis were the targets.)
I liken [al-Qaeda attitude toward the terror attacks in Africa] to a demolition company destroying a building. Who cares if the "vermin" in it are destroyed along with the building? For that is the cultural view that [many? most?] Arab Muslims hold for blacks, even for those blacks who are foolish enough to believe that being Muslims themselves will save them. Sudan, anyone?At any rate, my heart goes out to those who are still feeling the physical, emotional and spiritual pain caused by those attacks. At least one of your American friends is thinking of you today, Kenya, and I know for a fact that I am far from alone.