2002 Mombasa attacks

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2002 Mombasa attacks
Arkia B753 4X-BAW.jpg
Arkia had two Boeing 757s at the time of the attack.
Kenya location map.svg
Red pog.svg
The attack site

Location of Mombasa in Kenya
Location Mombasa, Kenya
Coordinates 4°03′00″S 39°39′58″E / 4.05°S 39.666°E / -4.05; 39.666Coordinates: 4°03′00″S 39°39′58″E / 4.05°S 39.666°E / -4.05; 39.666
Date 28 November 2002; 16 years ago (2002-11-28)
Target Israeli hotel and plane
Attack type
car bombing, suicide attack, attempted shootdown
Weapons surface-to-air missile
Deaths 13 victims (3 Israelis, 10 Kenyans) and 3 suicide bombers[1]
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrators al-Qaeda

The 2002 Mombasa attacks were terrorist attacks on 28 November 2002 in Mombasa, Kenya against an Israeli-owned hotel and a plane belonging to Arkia Airlines. An all-terrain vehicle crashed through a barrier outside the Paradise Hotel and blew up, killing 13 and injuring 80. At the same time, attackers fired two surface-to-air missiles at an Israeli charter plane.[2] The Paradise Hotel was the only Israeli-owned hotel in the Mombasa area.[3]


Hotel bombing

The blast occurred on the eve of Hanukkah just after some 60 visitors had checked into the hotel, all of them from Israel for a holiday stay. Thirteen people were killed and 80 injured. Ten Kenyans died in the attack and three Israelis, two of them children. Nine of the victims were dancers who had been employed to welcome hotel guests. In an overnight rescue mission, four Israeli military Hercules planes were sent to Mombasa to evacuate the dead and injured.[2]

Plane attack

Two Strela 2 missiles were fired during take-off, but missed the plane.

Almost simultaneously, two shoulder-launched Strela 2 (SA-7) surface-to-air missiles were fired at a chartered Boeing 757 airliner owned by Israel-based Arkia Airlines as it took off from Moi International Airport. The Arkia charter company had a regular weekly service flying tourists between Tel Aviv and Mombasa. Kenyan police discovered a missile launcher and two missile casings in the Changamwe area of Mombasa, about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the airport. The pilots planned on an emergency landing in Nairobi after seeing the two missiles streak past them, but decided to continue to Israel. The airliner landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv about five hours later, escorted by Israeli F-15 fighter jets.[4] Following the attack, all flights from Israel to Kenya were cancelled indefinitely.


Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of the London-based Islamic organisation Al Muhajiroun, said that warnings had appeared on the Internet. "Militant groups who sympathise with Al-Qaeda warned one week ago that there would be an attack on Kenya and they mentioned Israelis," he said.[5] Initially, Israeli government spokesmen denied that such a warning had been received. But four days after the blast, Brigadier-General Yossi Kuperwasser admitted that Israeli military intelligence were aware of a threat in Kenya, but that it was not specific enough. Former Mossad head Danny Yatom took a similar line, saying that Israel got so many terror warnings they were not taken seriously.[4]

In Lebanon, a previously unknown group called the Army of Palestine has said it carried out the attacks and said it wanted the world to hear the "voice of the refugees" on the 55th anniversary of the partition of Palestine.[2][6]

On 20 December 2006, Salad Ali Jelle, Defence Minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, said that one of the suspects, Abu Taha al-Sudan, was an Islamic Courts Union leader fighting against the Transitional Federal Government in the 2006 Battle of Baidoa.[7] On 14 September 2009, Somalian troops killed Kenya-born Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan after a missile struck his car in the Barawe District, 250 kilometers south of Somalia's capital Mogadishu. Nabhan is believed to have owned the truck used in the 2002 bombing.[8]

International response

Washington condemned the attacks: "Today's attacks underscore the continuing willingness of those opposed to peace to commit horrible crimes," President George W Bush said "The United States remains firmly committed, with its partners around the world, to the fight against terror and those who commit these heinous acts. "Bush urged all "those who seek peace... to dismantle the infrastructure of terror".[2]

  •  UN – The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1450 condemning the attacks. Syria was the only member to oppose the resolution.
  •  Israel – Israel's Foreign Minister Benyamin Netanyahu called the attacks a "grave escalation of terror against Israel".[9]
  •  Kenya – The Kenyan government described the attacks as "senseless terrorism" against Israeli interests. It also condemned the perpetrators for using Kenyan soil to carry out their activities.[10]
  •  United Kingdom – UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw expressed his "utter condemnation" of a suicide bomb attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya.[11]
  •  United States – Secretary of State Colin Powell said "We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific terrorist bombing earlier today in the Paradise Hotel near Mombasa Kenya that killed at least eleven and wounded dozens – both Kenyans and Israelis."[12]


  1. ^ Unanswered questions regarding Kenya terror attacks. World Socialist Web Site. 5 December 2002.
  2. ^ a b c d "Israel evacuates tourists from Kenya". BBC News. 29 November 2002.
  3. ^ "Kenyan hotel staff unpaid". BBC News. 5 December 2002.
  4. ^ a b UK condemns Kenya bomb attack. BBC News. 28 November 2002.
  5. ^ "Warnings were on Internet chat rooms, says cleric". Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. 28 November 2002. Retrieved 29 July 2010. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Al-Qaeda suspected in Kenya attacks. BBC News. 28 November 2002.
  7. ^ "Clashes broaden between Somali Islamist and government troops". Independent Online (South Africa). 20 December 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2007.
  8. ^ "Commandos Kill Suspect in 2002 Mombasa Hotel Blast". Haaretz. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  9. ^ "At least eight killed in Mombasa hotel blast in Kenya". Xinhua News Agency. 28 November 2002.
  10. ^ "This is senseless terrorism, Govt says". Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. 28 November 2002. Retrieved 29 July 2010. [permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Kenya attacks: TV and radio reports". BBC News. 29 November 2002. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  12. ^ "Powell Condemns Terror Attacks". GlobalSecurity.org. 29 November 2002. Retrieved 29 July 2010.

External links

  • After Blast, Kenya Reviews Qaeda's Trail in East Africa, The New York Times, 1 December 2002
  • ATTACKS IN MOMBASA: Kenyans Hunting for Clues; Bombing Toll Rises to 13, The New York Times, 30 November 2002
  • THE GRIEVERS: Israelis Return in Trauma From Supposed Haven, The New York Times, 30 November 2002
  • INVESTIGATION: U.S. Suspects Qaeda Link to Bombing in Mombasa, The New York Times, 30 November 2002
  • Source of Bombs? Kenyans Look North, The New York Times, 30 November 2002
  • AT THE SITE: Survivor Saw Bombers' Race to Death, The New York Times, 30 November 2002
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